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Six hundred copies for England and America. 
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List of Illustrations xi 

Introduction xiii 

Proem 3 

Novel I. Galgano is enamoured of Madonna Minoccia, wife of Messer 
Stricca. She is not minded to listen to him ; but, having heard her 
husband speak great praise of Galgano, she resolves to be cruel to him 
no longer. The story of the virtuous resolution taken by Galgano, at 
the moment when he was about to enjoy her 5 

Novel II. Bucciolo and Pietro Paolo go to study at Bologna. Bucciolo, 
having been licensed to practise the law, resolves to return to Rome 
without his friend, but afterwards settles to wait for him. Meantime he 
asks the master who has taught him what is the right way to make love. 
The good fortune which befell him thereanent, and the evil case of the 
master 8 


Novel I. Madonna Corsina of Naples sends her son to study at Bologna, 
where he falls sick and dies. Of a device of his contrived so that his 
mother may not be over-grieved at his death 20 

Novel II. Buondelmonte falls in love with Nicolosa, who had married one 
of the family of Acciaiuoli, foes of the Buondelmonti, and by the help of 
a serving-woman contrives to gain admission to her bed. The narrative 
of what the lady did thereupon ; how peace was restored between the 
two families, and how the young man compassed his vengeance ... 23 


Novel I. Don Placido, a Florentine, travelling to Avignon, finds com- 
panionship at Nice in Provence with a friar who is also bound to the 



Pope's court. But it transpires that the friar aforesaid is really a lady of 
Viterbo, who is going to join a certain cardinal. Of the good fortune 
which befell Don Placido on the road until he came to Avignon ... 32 

Novel II. Ceccolo of Perugia, having wasted all his substance over Isabella, 
the wife of one Lapo, a Florentine, takes service with Lapo as a page. 
The craft of the lady in taking her pleasure with Ceccolo, and in making 
him beat her husband with a stick ; and how it fell out that the husband 
held Ceccolo dearer than ever, notwithstanding 39 


Novel I. Giannetto after the death of his father goes to Venice, and is 
received as a son by Messer Ansaldo, a wealthy merchant. Being taken 
with desire to see the world, he embarks on a ship and sails to the port 
of Belmonte. What happened to him in his dealings with a certain 
widow lady of that place, who had promised to marry any man who 
should lie with her and have enjoyment of her 4.4 

Novel II. Count Aldobrandino, a man advanced in years, in order to get 
to wife the daughter of Carsivalo, induces her father to proclaim a tourna- 
ment, with the damsel as the first prize thereof. How he proved the 
victor in the same and won the lady 60 


Novel I. Chello and Janni of Velletri feign to be soothsayers, in order to 
cast shame upon the Roman people. They are received by Crassus at 
the state palace, and they dig up for him certain pieces of money which 
they had hidden in divers places. They next declare that under the 
tower of the palace of the tribunes is hidden a vast treasure. Crassus 
causes the same to be mined and underpinned ; and the soothsayers 
kindle a fire there. Then they quit Rome, and the next morning the 
tower falls, with great slaughter of the Roman people 67 

Novel II. Janni and Ciucolo betake themselves to Boethius for advice : the 
one because he found himself with nothing in his pocket at the end of 
the year, and the other because he had a cross-grained wife. The answer 
made to them by Boethius 71 

Novel I. Messer Alano, a learned doctor of Paris, went to the court of 
Rome and took up his residence in a convent of monks as a servant. It 
chanced that the Pope convoked a consistory to refute the subtleties of 
Messer Giovan Piero, another doctor of Paris, and a noted heretic ; where- 
upon Messer Alano, having entered the chamber under the abbot's cope, 
took part in the dispute. How he made himself known there, and how 
he confounded the opposing doctor 75 



Novel II. The terrible doom Bernabo Visconti, Duke of Milan, wrought 

upon Ambrogio, one of his courtiers, and upon a minor friar .... 80 


Novel I. The horrible cruelty used by Francesco Orsino towards Lisabetta 
his wife and other kinsfolk, because of her becoming enamoured of a 
youth named Rinaldo ; and the wretched end of Messer Orsino ... 84 

Novel II. Messer Galeotto Malatesta di Arimino causes Gostanza his niece 
to be slain barbarously, as well as Ormanno, a German soldier who was 
wont privily to visit her 87 


Novel I. How the parties of the Guelfs and Ghibellines arose, and how 

the accursed seed of strife was first sown and began to spring in Italy . 93 

Novel II. How the exiled Ghibellines of Florence returned thither, and 
drove out the Guelfs, and with what subtlety they cozened the people of 
Florence 96 


Novel I. One Maestro Bindo, a Florentine, goes to Venice to set in order 
the campanile of St. Mark, and he builds likewise a palace for the public 
service. After a certain time he steals therefrom a cup of gold; and, 
having gone back thither, he falls into a cauldron of boiling pitch. 
Ricciardo, his son, cuts off the head from the body, and afterwards Bindo's 
remains are hung up upon a gibbet. The son carries them off, and 
buries them in the ground. They try in vain to discover the thief by 
the temptations of gluttony and of lust, and at last the Doge makes a 
promise that the guilty man shall receive pardon, and have his own 
daughter to wife, if he will reveal himself; whereupon Ricciardo goes to 
the Doge and tells him all, and gets for himself the promised reward . . 102 

Novel II. Arrighetto, the emperor's son, having concealed himself within 
an eagle made of gold, gains entrance to the chamber of the daughter of 
the King of Aragon. Having come to an agreement with her, he takes 
her away by sea to Germany. Of the war which ensued thereanent, and 
of the peace made by the command of the Pope, under pain of excom- 
munication 113 


Novel I. The King of England takes to wife Dionigia, the daughter of the 
French king, whom he had found in a convent of his island. She is 
afterwards brought to bed with two male children in her husband's 
absence, and is forced, by reason of slander raised against her by her 
mother-in-law, to leave the court and fly to Rome with her children. 
By what chance the two kings, rejoicing greatly thereanent, recognize her, 
the one as his wife, and the other as his sister 127 

Novel II. How and at what time the city of Rome was built . . . . 133 





NovelI. In what manner the city of Florence was built 136 

Novel II. In what fashion Attila overthrew the city of Florence . . . 141 


Novel I. Charles the Great comes to Italy at the instance of Pope Adrian, 

and is made emperor H5 

Novel II. The Pisans invade Majorca and the Florentines send a guard 

for their city. In what way they were requited therefor 150 


Novel I. How the parties of the Neri and the Bianchi first arose . . . 154 
Novel II. How Pope Celestine renounced the papacy 156 


Novel I. After Celestine, Boniface VIII. was elefted pope. Certain of the 
great deeds he wrought during his papacy, and how he met his death at 
the hand of the King of France 160 

Novel II. How it came to pass that the court of Rome crossed over the 

Alps and settled at Avignon 165 


Novel I. How the world is divided into three parts 17 1 

Novel II. How the city of Troy was destroyed, and how the builders 

thereof were sprung from Fiesole 174 


Novel I. How ./Eneas passed from Troy into Italy 180 

Novel II. A continuation of the argument of the foregoing novel . . . 184 


Novel I. A discourse concerning the country and the power of the 

Tuscans 101 

Novel II. How San Miniato with divers other saints suffered martyrdom in 
the time of Decius the emperor, and how Constantine and all his people 
became Christians 196 


Novel I. Concerning certain kings of Italy, and what deeds they wrought . 202 

Novel II. Of the lineage of the Countess Matilda, her riches, the buildings 

she erected, and her marriage and death 210 



Novel I. The Emperor Frederic Barbarossa wages war against Pope 
Alexander III., whereupon the pope goes to France and excommunicates 
the emperor. Of the wars waged against the Church, and the princes 
who supported the pope. After divers events, Frederic endeavours to 
make peace with the Church, and, as an atonement, goes over seas for the 
rescue of the Holy Land 214 

Novel II. Of the descendants of Richard, King of England, and how they 

took their rise from Normandy 218 


Novel I. Of the Tartars, and of their first emperor named Can. Of his 

deeds and his descendants 221 

Novel II. Virginius slays his daughter Virginia in order to save her honour. 
Through her death comes to an end the tyranny of the Decemviri in 
Rome, to wit, of those who exercised the highest office in the republic . 223 


Novel I. The Florentines overthrow the Sienese at the foot of the hill of 

Vald'Elsa 231 

Novel II. How the Guelfs were driven out by the forces of the Emperor 

Frederic 233 


Novel I. Of a marvel which came to pass in Toledo in the time of Ferdinand, 

King of Castile and Spain 238 

Novel II. Of certain strange doings in Florence. The factions of the 
Bianchi and Neri at strife with one another. Of a fire which broke out 
and caused irreparable loss 239 


Novel I. How in the beginning the orders of the Friars Minor and of the 

Preachers were established 243 

Novel II. A stepmother causes one of her slaves to prepare poison for her 
stepson, because he would not consent to her wishes. Through mischance 
the potion is drunk by a younger son of her own. The stepson is accused 
of the crime, and the slave bears witness against him, but an old physician 
comes forward and deposes how he had given the draught to the slave, 
and how it was nought more than a narcotic. They all repair to the 
tomb, where the youth is found alive. The doom that afterwards was 
given upon the slave and the lady 244 



Novel I. Giano della Bella, a leading citizen, is driven forth from Florence. 

The portrait of the same 252 

Novel II. Of the death of Messer Corso Donati, a great and powerful 

citizen of Florence, and a description of him 255 


Novel I. Democrate of Ricanati determines to entertain certain gentlemen 
of the outlands with a hunt of wild animals. One of these, a huge she- 
bear, dies, and some ruffians scheme how they may rob Democrate. One 
of them puts on the bear's skin, and is shut in a cage by the others, who 
present the same to Democrate, feigning that a friend of his, an Albanian, 
has sent the beast as a gift. The thief lets in his friends by night, but a 
serving-man, hearing the noise, tells how the bear has broken loose. 
The beast is slain, and the ill-fated thief is discovered 259 

Novel II. Urban IV. chooses Charles, Count of Anjou, to be King of 
Sicily and Apulia, after having taken these lands from Manfred. Of the 
wars that ensued 262 

Three Novels, taken from a manuscript of the "Pecorone" of Ser 
Giovanni Fiorentino, which are not found in the book as first 


Day XX., Novel II 302 

Day XXL, Novel II 304 

Day XXV., Novel II 306 



































II. A Lesson in Love .... 

I. The Flight of Petruccia 

I. The Lady of Belmonte . . 
II. Gostanza's Prayer .... 


I. The Master Thief .... 

II. Arrighetto and the Princess 

I. Pope Boniface at Alagna . 

II. The Countess Matilda 

II. A Timely Rescue .... 
II. The Death of Corso Donati 

To face 











Wj>bk\^&±± - v 






XCEPT in the case of Boccaccio the personal history 
of the Italian novelists is exceedingly fragmentary, 
meagre, and obscure. Oblivion has fallen thickly over 
all of them. A few scattered notices in the pages of 
his contemporaries, and allusions to himself in the 
prologues and epilogues of his stories, mark the limits 
of our knowledge of Masuccio. Of Straparola even less is known. If 
Sacchetti is less nominis umbra it is because the work he left is the 
product of a very versatile mind, and furnishes us with glimpses of his 
personality and character from divers and divergent points of view. The 
image of Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, the author of the " Pecorone," has 
been found so elusive and unsubstantial that some there are who main- 
tain that the writer in question was not the industrious plagiarist of the 
historian Giovanni Villani, but Giovanni Villani himself. 1 

When all the biographical details relating to a particular person are 
limited to a few isolated facts, these facts will surely be uttered or 
written down whenever the name of the person in question may be pre- 
sented for consideration. Under such circumstances a certain monotony 
is inevitable. Time has left the record of Ser Giovanni's life a blank. 
The phrases descriptive of the few facts extant concerning him must 
of necessity be set down here, as they have been given already in 
other places, and as they will be set down hereafter by any writer who 
may concern himself with the same subject. Wherefore, since they 
must be familiar to all those who have ever heard his name, they shall 
be dealt with in due brevity. 

1 Villani died in 1348. This view was suggested by Manni in his " Ulustrazione 
del Boccaccio," but is scarcely a possible one. 


Practically all the known references to the writer or compiler of the 
" Pecorone " are those contained in the sonnet which stands on the first 
page and in the short Proem in which the scheme of the work is set 
forth. In the sonnet it is declared that the book was begun in the year 
1378, and that the author, Ser Giovanni, had written other books as 
well. But a cursory examination of the sonnet, and a comparison of it 
with the lyrics in the other parts of the " Pecorone" will rouse a suspicion 
that it belongs to a much later period, and could hardly have been 
written by the author of the rest of the book, whether he wrote as early 
as 1378 or not. It has all the buffo character of those verses which 
writers of the fifteenth century were accustomed to place on the opening 
pages of their books. 1 The very use of the term "II Pecorone" suggests 
that the work dates from the era of the Italian academies rather than 
from that given in the sonnet. To call a book " II Pecorone," the big 
sheep or the simpleton, is exactly what would have been done by a 
writer who wanted to follow the style of academies like the " Insensati," 
the " Storditi," or of any other of the kindred societies which sprang up 
at the beginning of the sixteenth century, such as the coterie " I Vig- 
naiuoli " at Rome, the members of which called themselves II Mosto, 
L'Agresto, II Cotogno, and so forth. The proem goes on to tell how 
the writer, happening to find himself at Dovadola, sore stricken by 
misfortune and driven hither and thither by evil fate, took up the work 
of story-telling in the hope of finding therein some consolation and 
refreshment after all the troubles and calamities he had recently under- 
gone. The era in question was a momentous one in the history of 
Florence. The popular and aristocratic parties were about to meet for 
their final struggle. Seventy years earlier the banishment of Giano 
della Bella had brought about an increased exacerbation of factious 
spirit in Florence; and, although victory remained apparently with the 
popular party, each section thereof bore within itself the seed of weak- 
ness and decay. No man could trust his leader or colleague, and while 
the action and policy of the Priori delle Arti were thus weakened and 
distracted by jealousy, the alliance between the noble families and the 
popolani grassi, as the rich citizens were called, was being quietly con- 
solidated. In 1330 the democratic cause in Northern Italy was greatly 
discredited by the flout put upon it by the submission of many of the 
Lombard cities to the rule of John, the knight-errant King of Bohemia. 

1 If the Sonnet be rejefted as spurious, there is no warrant for the use of the 
name " Ser Giovanni," but custom, to say nothing of convenience, will allow its 


Florence stood almost alone as a champion of democracy, and the 
spectacle of this extension of despotic rule, however benignant the 
despot, provoked the wrath and distrust of the turbulent Florentine 
demagogues. To avert the danger which seemed to threaten free 
institutions, Florence was moved to forget her ancient resentments and 
to join a league of the Lombard Ghibellines against King John, but 
this alliance proved a short-lived one, and the several parties thereto 
were soon fighting amongst themselves. The ill-conduct of this war, 
and the heavy burden of the consequent taxes, caused great disaffec- 
tion; even in Florence doubts arose as to the universal excellence and 
perfection of democratic rule, and the crisis came to an end by the 
temporary subjection of the state to the tyranny of the Duke of Athens 
in 1342. Liberty was recovered by the familiar method of a street 
battle ; but, though she managed to get rid of her tyrant, Florence was 
greatly weakened and impoverished by the struggle, and, after the 
further excesses and misrule which prevailed during the Ciompi tumults, 
the final triumph of the nobili popolani was easily achieved. In 1378, 
the very same year in which the "Pecorone" is said to have been 
written, the last struggle took place, and the name of Salvestro dei 
Medici, who was then elected Gonfalonier, foreshadowed the final extinc- 
tion of Florentine liberty. 

In times so unsettled as these, and amongst the cross-divisions of 
Guelf and Ghibelline, Bianchi and Neri, political proscription and exile 
were the frequent fate of the Florentine citizen ; wherefore it seems 
highly probable that the troubles alluded to in the Proem may have been 
of this nature. The presence of the writer at Dovadola may have been 
forced, the result of a sentence of exile pronounced against him, or he 
may have withdrawn there voluntarily out of pique at some turn of 
affairs in Florentine politics offensive to his Guelf leanings. 1 Dovadola 
is a village of Romagna near to Forli, lying between Rocca San 
Casciano and Castrocara. The village is a mean one, and the adjacent 
country is barren. It did not come under the sway of Florence till' 
1440 ; therefore as an independent commune it was in 1378 exactly the 
place which a Florentine citizen, exiled or disaffected, would have chosen 
as a place of refuge and residence. 

Landau, in his " Beitrage zur Geschichte der Italienischen Novelle," 
employs this incident in support of a theory that the author of the 

1 "Sfolgorato e cacciato dalla fortuna, come nel presente libro leggenao potrete vedere." — 
Proem. The promise made in the concluding words is not kept, as no reference to 
any calamity which befell the writer occurs in the "Pecorone." 



" Pecorone " was a certain Giovanni Cambi. This man had been one of 
the Gonfaloniers, but was disgraced and deprived of his office for neglect 
of his duties after the suppression of the Ciompi riots in 1348. Thus, 
in this particular year, history makes mention of one Giovanni, degraded 
and most likely banished the city, and the proem of the " Pecorone " 
tells of another, " sfolgorato e cacciato dallafortuna" who had taken refuge 
at Dovadola. The evidence that they were one and the same person is 
not conclusive, but Landau's suggestion is at least worth notice. From 
the fact that he writes himself down as "Ser" Giovanni it has been 
assumed that he followed the calling of a notary, for the reason that in 
Florence the prefix aforesaid was one generally used by members of this 
profession. Brunetto Latini, who was a notary, always adopted it, and 
Don Placido Puccinelli, in his work, " Delia Fede e Nobilta del Notaro," 
says that this style was allowed to all notaries, forasmuch as this profession 
was one chiefly practised by men of good family. But no investigator 
has yet been able to identify the writer of the " Pecorone " with any 
particular man of law. 

Just at this period men of letters, in a transient fit of modesty, seem 
to have abstained from setting down any record concerning themselves, 
and the professional annalists ignored them entirely. The state was 
convulsed by wars and revolutions, and men in these troublesome days 
would have found little leisure to read Ser Giovanni's stories, and even 
less to spend in making any record of his doings for the benefit of pos- 
terity. But later on certain writers found diversion in trying to settle 
definitely his place in the world. The Canonico Bisconi, in his appendix 
to Cinelli's "History of Florentine Authors," makes the startling assertion 
that the author of the " Pecorone " was, in his belief, the first general 
of the Franciscan order, following the blessed Francis himself. 1 He 
bases this strange contention on a remark made by Antonio Maglia- 
becchi in a letter written to the Canonico Panciatichi. Magliabecchi, 
who is speaking of legists in general, goes on to tell of a certain Ser 
Giovanni who at one time had occupied the position of judge at Citta di 
Castellana. This man on account of some strange accident which befell 
him — no details are given — resolved to forsake the world and to join 
the Franciscan order, of which he ultimately became general. Signor 
Gaetano Poggiali, in his introduction to the edition of the c< Pecorone " 
published at Leghorn in 1793, makes mention of this legend, and in 

1 Saint Francis died in 1226, and his successor was called Elias, and not Giovanni. 
It was upon the apostasy of this Elias in 1240 that some of the earliest satiric verses 
in the popular tongue were written. 


addition alludes to a poem written by a Messer Giovanni Fiorentino in 
ottava rima, called" L'Istoria del Mondo fallace," which poem he describes 
as forming a part of the library of religious poetry colle&ed by Gian 
Donati. Chronologically it seems to have been some years later than 
Dante, and it was certainly one of the earliest of Italian printed books. 
Poggiali suggests the theory that this work might have been written by the 
author of the "Pecorone;" but, as he had never seen it — he declares it to 
be exceedingly scarce — he refrains judiciously from any more definite 
assertion, and likewise refuses to admit that its religious character goes 
in any way to prove that its author — whether he wrote the " Pecorone " 
or not — took charge of the Franciscan order on the founder's death. 

Recent criticism, however, has taken a more destructive line. Pro- 
fessor de Gubernatis x has written with great ingenuity to demonstrate 
that the personality of Ser Giovanni is purely mythical ; that the 
" Pecorone," from certain idiosyncrasies of style, could not have been 
written in the trecento; and that its proper place is with the other 
recognized forgeries of literature, the Macpherson of this Ossian being 
Ludovico Domenichi, the editor of the first edition published in 1558. 2 

The utterances of so illustrious a critic deserve the most respectful 
consideration. Signor de Gubernatis makes what seems to be his most 
weighty point in his opening paragraphs, to wit, in his examination of 
the prefatory sonnet of the work, " sonetto burchiellesco proemiale che gli 
st a innanzi e si referisce all' anno 1378, sonetto che a me parve sempre 
manipolazione e compilazione piu recente, non pur del quattrocento ma del 
cinquecento." The incongruity of the sonnet with the rest of the work 
has already been noticed, and the adjective given to it by Professor de 
Gubernatis admirably marks its origin. Burchiello was a popular writer 
of satires and burlesques in the argot of Florence in the first half of the 
fifteenth century. The sonnet in question has all the spirit of his work, 
and bears every sign of having been written by someone familiar there- 
with. Even without the weight of Professor de Gubernatis' adverse judg- 
ment the case against the sonnet's authenticity is a very strong one. In 
combatting the view that the residue of the book, the Proem and the 
Novels, were written or put together by any other than Domenichi, the 
professor is satisfied that certain expressions found in the dedication of 
the first edition to Lucia Bertana stamp the body of the work as a farrago 
of his own, and that in the Proem itself there are many turns of style, 

1 "Lezioni sui Novellieri Italiani." 

2 Poggiali, in his introdu&ion to the edition of 1793, speaks of a forged edition 
published at Milan with the date of 1 554. 


such as " scintilla di refrigerio" u portare il giuoco * dello sfavillante amore" 
which suggest a date far later than 1378. He maintains that the 
mention of the reigning emperor as well as the reigning pope — an attempt 
to flatter both at the same breath — is much more characteristic of a 
courtly pedant of the cinquecento than of a Guelf exile in 1378. The 
awkwardness and tenuity of the bond by which the stories are held 
together is exactly the sort of work which a man with Domenichi's 
antecedents would execute. 2 But the most telling bit of internal evidence 
against the early date of the " Pecorone" that he can produce is a 
citation from Day IX., Novel II., in which the style of duke and count 
is given to the ruler of Savoy. The dignity of duke was not — according 
to Professor de Gubernatis — assumed till the year 1391, and he holds 
that this anticipation proves the story in question to have been written 
after, and not before, this date. It may be remarked that this prince is 
twice referred to in the novel, once as ct conte " and once as " conte e 

Another charge of anachronism does not seem to hold good. 
Professor de Gubernatis, quoting as an authority Professor Errea, main- 
tains that Day XII., Novel II., must have been written after 1406, as it 
contains an allusion to the capture of Pisa by the Florentines in that 
year. This comment is scarcely correct. The Novel is made up of 
three chapters of Giovanni Villani's tf Chronicles," iv. 30, vi. 2 and 3, 
and describes the Pisan expedition to Majorca in 11 17, and the trick 
played upon the Florentines in the matter of the porphyry columns which 
still stand on the walls of the Baptistery; the quarrel of the envoys of Pisa 
and Florence at the coronation of Frederic II., and the consequent war, 
which came to an end by the battle of Castel del Bosco in 1222. The 
compiler of the novel says in conclusion that the pride of the Pisans 
was for this time brought low, 3 but makes no mention of the final 
subjugation by Florence. Every word might have been written in 1378. 

With regard to the ascription of the book to Domenichi as a 
collector and embellisher rather than as a creator the arguments of Signor 
de Gubernatis, though largely conjectural, are ingenious and not wanting 

1 This is manifestly a lapsus calami. All editions have "giogo." 

2 Domenichi was of Piacenza. He is best known in letters by his quarrel with 
Doni, who pursued him with great virulence and caused him to be imprisoned at 
Florence. He translated Boethius, and collefted a book of " Facetie Motti e Burle, 
o Detti e Fatti di diversi Signori." He also brought out a slovenly rifacimento of the 
" Orlando Innamorato." 

3 "E cosi fu attuato per quella volt a il rigoglio de 1 Pisani." 


in cogency. There are extant three MSS. of the " Pecorone," the 
Trivulzian, the Magliabecchian, 1 and the Laurentian. Of these the 
first-named is Milanese and the others Florentine. Signor de Gubernatis 
has never collated these MSS., but he is evidently of the opinion that 
examination would show them all to be the work of one and the same 
hand ; that of Ludovico Domenichi. Here, he says, in speaking of the 
" Pecorone," is a collection of novels ; a few original, a few taken from 
Boccaccio and the Fabliaux, and the residue made up of borrowings from 
Villani, Livy, and Apuleius. It is given to the world by a man bearing 
a bad reputation even in those days, the companion of Doni and Pietro 
Aretino and a member of the nefarious Accademia Ortolana ofPiacenza. 
As a translator of Boethius he would have become familiar with Latin, 
and that he had loose notions as to meum and tuum in his labour of the 
pen is shown by an extract from Tiraboschi, who asserts that Domenichi 
published as his own a tragedy called c< Progne," which was nothing but 
a translation from the Latin of Gregorio Corraro. Moreover, his quarrel 
with Doni arose over charges and counter-charges of literary theft, his 
dialogue Delia Stampa being copied closely from the De Marmi of Doni. 
His work has all gone down to deserved oblivion, but what success he 
did reap was gained as a raffazonatore, a collector and shaper of other 
men's work. His own collections are ill-digested, ill-set, and incon- 
gruous, and in this respect do not differ widely from the "Pecorone." 
In one place he speaks of himself as a man stricken by severe mis- 
fortune, 2 one to whom the words used in the Proem, " sfolgorato e 
cacciato" would specially apply. 

In 1 548 Domenichi published a book, " Delia nobilta delle donne," 
and in the preface of the same he writes, cc As I have not digestion strong 
enough to assimilate the food I have taken, I carry within me a mass of 
crude matter. This arises, however, not from any fault of the food 
I have just swallowed, but from my own ill-regulated stomach. Further- 
more, I have mingled therewith something of my own, and by so doing 
may perchance have spoilt what would otherwise have proved to be good 
and wholesome." Here, in Domenichi's own words, Professor de 
Gubernatis finds a close description of his method of writing — a method 

1 Poggiali declares that this MS. is almost illegible. He speaks also of a MS. 
fragment of the "Pecorone" bound up with the "Ninfale Fiesolano " of Boccaccio 
in his own collection of Codici di Lingua. This he affirms to be in the handwriting 
of the trecento. 

2 " Prima to ho difficult a quanto alcun altro del nostro tempo, e non altrimente che s* to 
fossi stato sbandito e scacciato fuor della patria mia." — Dialogo con La Fortuna. 


which assuredly resembles strongly that of the author or compiler of the 
" Pecorone," to wit, the admixture of a small quantity of original matter 
with a large mass of undigested borrowings. 

The date given as the birthday of the " Pecorone " falls upon a point 
of time when the spirit and tradition of Provencal literature, which had 
penetrated Italy some century and a half before, were still perceptible. 
That form of feudalism which had fostered the growth of this quaintly 
curious exotic was peculiar to the lands lying beyond the Alps. The 
traditions of loyal service prevalent in France, Spain, and the Empire 
formed a milieu in which the literature of romance burgeoned with rank 
luxuriance. A growth of this character could scarcely have struggled 
into being amidst the easy unrestrained civic life and the democratic 
ethos of contemporary Italy, where the pride of feudal aristocracy and 
the pomp of chivalry were almost entirely wanting ; it would never even 
have taken root as a transplanted flower in Sicily had it not been for the 
infusion of French and German sentiment, introduced and nurtured by 
the courtiers of the Norman and Swabian rulers of the island, and 
encouraged by the patronage and participation of the monarchs them- 
selves. As early as n 66 the Norman King of Sicily, William II., 
gathered round him at Palermo a band of Provencal troubadours, and 
the taste for letters thus initiated grew rapidly, and became the central 
interest in the court of Frederic II. In Piedmont and Lombardy feudal 
customs gained a stronger hold because of the close neighbourhood of 
the transalpine kingdoms, and as a result troubadour literature raised its 
head there above all other, and rivalled the excellencies of Provence 
itself. 1 Thus, while in the north poetic literature assumed a form 
sympathetic with feudal environment, feudalism itself, neither in 
Lombardy nor in Italy generally, ever became the potent factor in social 
life it was in other parts of Europe. In its flight from Provence to 
Naples, and from Naples to Tuscany, romantic poetry preserved some- 
thing of its original form, but the life of the flower flagged and declined 
after the wrench which separated it from its native soil. The sap rose 
feebly ; it languished in the unfamiliar air of the Sicilian court — albeit 
congenial surroundings were not wanting — and it suffered complete 

1 In a celebrated passage in the "Purgatorio " Dante alludes to this characteristic — 

" In sul paese ch 1 Adige e Po riga, 
Solea valore e cortesia trovarsi 
Prima che Federigo avesse briga." 

Purg. y xvi. 


transformation as soon as it was brought into contact with the rough 
national life of the free city of Florence. 1 

In the middle of the thirteenth century Tuscany produced Guido 
Guinicelli and Guittone d'Arezzo, the earliest writers in the lingua 
materna whose verses are worthy of notice, but as yet the tongue of 
Northern France, rather than the Langue d'oc, was affected by men of 
letters. Brunetto Latini wrote the " Tesoro" in French, and Saint Francis 
used the same tongue for his early hymns. Guido Guinicelli 2 and 
Guittone d'Arezzo wrote with a depth of feeling quite alien to the light- 
ness and animation of the troubadours, and with a perfection of form 
which allows their work to be placed alongside that of Petrarch himself. 
It bears traces of those sterner surroundings amidst which the national 
life of Italy was being moulded. The rise of the great schools of 
Bologna and Salerno, and of the commercial states, led men to think 
of other matters than jousting and gallantry. Italy became the land 
of jurists, scholars, and philosophers. Poets there were, no doubt, 3 but 
when they sang of love, they were wont to treat it as a principle, a 
Platonic abstraction, rather than as a passion living and real — as an 
influence on human character rather than as an ecstasy. These scholarly 
singers fashioned themselves on classical models, and favoured a style 
which was quite unfit to deal with the undisciplined extravagance of 
Provencal themes. The attributes of chivalrous love, when they had 
passed through the mind of the Tuscan master, were presented afresh 
in the form of philosophical doctrine. The body and soul of the 
worshipped object were sublimated into the most exalted expression 
of beauty and spiritual excellence ; the classic instances of such a process 
were the personalities of Beatrice and Laura, and the fainter and belated 
figure of the fair Geraldine, the object of Surrey's pathetic love. But 
the gay science did not long survive its northward flight to Tuscany, 
and by the middle of the fourteenth century it had practically ceased 
to be. 

Still, the ghost of this dead and gone Provencal culture must have 

1 The loss of civic rights consequent on ennoblement is an evidence of the low 
esteem the Florentines had for chivalry. 

a Dante honours him as his father in letters — 

" £>uando P ud? nomar se stesso il padre 
Mio, e degli altri miei miglior, che mai 
Rime d'amore usar dolci e leggiadre" 

Purg., xxvi. 

3 Guido Guinicelli's poem of "The Gentle Heart" is one of the best examples. 
It is translated in Rossetti's " Early Italian Poets." 


been walking in the days with which the proem of the Cf Pecorone " 
proposes to treat, and furthermore the writer of the same, whoever he 
may have been, must at some time or other have come across some story — 
peradventure that of Geffroi Rudel and Melisande of Tripoli — telling 
how the true lover was wont to worship the lady of his heart for no other 
reason than from having heard the report of her graces and perfections. 
The memory of some legend of this kind must have been haunting him 
when he first conceived the idea of his proem and of the quaintly frigid 
setting which he gave to his stories. Auretto, the youth who plays the 
lover's part in this duologue — amorous indeed, but ruled by a punctilio 
rigid enough to light up with additional glow of humour the occasional 
lapses of the lovers into the natural speech and action of human beings — 
had become enamoured of the beauteous nun Saturnina, not by the sight 
of her charms, but by the glowing report of her various excellencies which 
had come to his ears by chance rumour. By losing his heart in this 
fashion Auretto was following strictly the rule of troubadour etiquette, 
and in the <c Pecorone " itself the author lets certain sensitive youths fall 
under the same spell. Cases in point will be found in the story of Prince 
Arrighetto, who becomes enamoured with the daughter of the King of 
Aragon merely by hearing of her surpassing beauty ; x and of the son of 
the Florentine captain quartered at Pisa, whose passion for a damsel of 
the city whom he had never seen brought him to a cruel death. 2 

In adopting so naturally this method of treating the passion of love 
Ser Giovanni shows that there must have beaten in his nature some vein 
fully in sympathy with the quasi-superannuated romance of the Trou- 
badours. Supposing him to have been a busy notary, it is fair to assume 
that he spared some time from the study of the Code to spend in 
novel reading, although a leaning after trifling of this sort would show 
him to be out of sympathy with the prevailing drift of Florentine taste. 
Florence as a whole had been dominated by a practical realistic habit of 
mind, and had been insensible to the fascinations of Romance. A story 
to please a Florentine citizen must tell of something he knew of by every- 
day experience. In the " Decameron " there is very little to show that 
Boccaccio was even conscious that Provencal romance had ever crossed 
the confines of Italy. As a man of letters, and a sojourner in the court 
of Naples, he must have been acquainted with the romances of chivalry, 
and with Provencal literature and its Italian offshoots, but he was never- 
theless quite insensible to its charms. These touched him not ; he let 
them pass unnoticed, and devoted himself to the delineation, in his own 
1 Day IX., Novel II. 2 Day XII., Novel II. 


inimitable fashion, of the living men and women who walked the streets 
of Florence in his day. Sacchetti again, who was certainly the con- 
temporary of Ser Giovanni, is another instance in point. He has left 
behind him a collection of novels tinged even less than Boccaccio's with 
the hues of romance. But it must not be assumed that Italian fiction had 
from the beginning suffered from the absence of the Romantic spirit. It 
was certainly not wanting in the earliest known collection of stories, the 
" Cento Novelle Antiche," a book strongly charged with Mediaevalism, 
but with the mediaeval spirit regulated and refined by contact with the 
culture and learning prevalent in the Italian cities. It is fashioned on 
the contemporary Italian model, and with regard to form it is quite 
unlike the crude presentments of the undisciplined fancies of Minne- 
singer and Troubadour. Likewise, in spirit it takes less from these 
than from such collections as the " Gesta Romanorum," the"Disciplina 
Clericalis," and the "Seven Wise Masters." It bears stronger traces of 
northern than of southern French influences. Several of the novels are 
borrowed from the Arthurian cycle, to wit, the story of the Lady of 
Scalot who died for love of Lancelot, of the passion of Yseult, and of 
Tristan's madness, but the larger part of them are variants of the tales in 
the " Gesta Romanorum " and of current classical fables. A few are 
of the buffo type affected by the later novelists, but far less offensive in 
style. The book was put together at the end of the thirteenth century, 
and after a lapse of some fifty years the " Decameron " followed it, lifting 
the curtain upon another world, and bridging completely the gulf lying 
between the Middle Ages and the dawn of the Renaissance. 

In spite of the check given by the popularity of the <f Decameron " to 
the spread of romantic ideas, there must have been a temporary recrudes- 
cence of the spirit of chivalry in the days when the " Pecorone " was put 
together. The scheme of the Proem might have been taken direct from 
some volume of Troubadbur romance. There is no crafty intrigue, no 
mining and countermining, no outwitting of husband or father. Auretto 
being mastered by his passion for the lovely Saturnina, and having spent all 
his substance in cortesia, attains his object simply by putting on a priest's 
frock, and getting by the favour of a friend the post of convent chaplain. 
The fates are benignant to the lovers from the beginning, and not once 
in the course of the five-and-twenty days of consecutive story-telling 
was their tete-a-tete in the convent parlour interrupted. Saturnina shows 
herself duly appreciative of Auretto's devotion, and without delay gives 
him her heart in return. Every day each of the lovers tells a tale, and 
either one or the other sings a canzonet. Some of the stories suggest 



that the lover, and the lady as well, must at some prior time have been 
in touch with wider and more tempestuous experiences than those which 
now limit their tranquil life. In some of the earlier stories it is no 
slight tribute to Ser Giovanni's skill as an artist that he never lets the 
reader feel that the situation is in the least degree strained or incongruous, 
albeit the dramatis persona consist merely of a priest and a nun ena- 
moured of one another, and that they occasionally tell stories which 
have their parallels in the freer novels of the " Decameron " and the 
" Piacevoli Notti." 1 When each lover has told a story, the inevitable 
canzonet is sung, and then the pair go their several ways after gracious 
words of farewell. 

Ser Giovanni is certainly much more successful in the construction 
of his stories than in the setting which he devised for them. The intro- 
duction of the canzonets is evidently an imitation of the " Decameron," 
where they fill their due space and do not disturb the symmetry of the 
work, but in the " Pecorone," where the days only contain two stories 
instead of ten, the songs occur too frequently, and, through the sameness 
of the theme dealt with, become somewhat monotonous. The openings 
and closings of the narratives themselves show little variety all through 
the fifty novels. The greetings and farewells of the lovers are thoroughly 
proper and conventional ; a pressure of hands being the customary form 
of endearment, but occasionally Auretto kisses the hand of the lady, and 
once or twice salutes her on the lips. She, perhaps, is the less prudish 
of the two. Some of the more broadly humorous of the stories are 
told by her, and in certain of her comments on incidents in Auretto's 
tales she displays a charming naivete, notably at the opening of the second 
novel of the first day, where she speculates as to what she herself would 
have done had she been in Galgano's place with his mistress by his side. 
To pass on to the Novels themselves, it will be found that the first 
portion of the " Pecorone " is composed of novels of a character not 
unlike that of the tales of the " Decameron," but even in the freest of 
these the details are never licentious, nor the forms of expression 
indecent; but Ser Giovanni did not long continue his story-telling in this 
strain. In one of the openings 2 he makes Auretto declare that, in his 
opinion, they have discoursed enough of love, and that it behoves them 

1 It may be noted that in the "Decameron," and in Straparola's "Nights," and 
in "Le Cene " of II Lasca, the company of narrators and listeners bear themselves with 
scrupulous propriety, however indecent the stories may be. 

8 " Io voglio che noi lasciamo il ragionare d'amore, e cominciamo un poco a parlare piu 
morale e piu istoricamente." — Day V., Novel I. 


now to tell stories dealing with history and manners. For a time we 
are treated to historical romance combined with intrigue, but in the end 
he settles down to present as novels adaptations, or in some cases actual 
transcriptions of certain chapters of Giovanni Villani's chronicles, some- 
times laying Livy under contribution as well. There is no shred of 
evidence, external or internal, available to furnish a reason for this 
change of style. The writer may have felt himself overshadowed and 
dwarfed by the fame of his illustrious predecessor, or even outdone in 
popularity by the more racy and telling work of his contemporary, 
Franco Sacchetti, and on this account he may have been induced to 
make a fresh departure. Perhaps he determined to change his line by 
reason of distaste for the gross and lascivious subjects which were at 
that time the stock material in the world of fiction. Judged by the 
standard of the age, Ser Giovanni's stories are pure both in form and 
spirit. He keeps clear of the coarse jokes and tricks which fill so large 
a portion of the pages of Boccaccio, Sacchetti, and II Lasca, and also of 
those revolting stories of exaggerated lust and savage vengeance which 
deform the pages of too many of the novelists, and are too gross in 
essence to be made tolerable even by the touch of the most consum- 
mate art. 

Some of his tales appear under slightly different form in the 
collections of the other Novellieri, and the story, as he tells it, always 
gains in decency if not in dramatic force. A man with tastes for this kind 
of treatment would, in those days, soon find himself short of subjects 
which he would consider legitimate themes for elaboration, unless he 
should lay history under contribution, as the unknown compiler of the 
"Cento Novelle Antiche" had done. Ser Giovanni's was not the brain 
to weave fresh plots for a volume of fifty novels. Good story-teller as 
he was, and original in his treatment, his fancy was not fertile of new 
subjects. Some nineteen of the fifty tales are of the type of the con- 
ventional Novella, and of these there are not more than half-a-dozen 
which may not be found in some different guise in one or other of the 
storehouses from which the Novellieri drew their materials. Therefore, 
hedged in between his poverty of invention and his disinclination to go 
on knitting together in fresh combination the anecdotes of lust, revenge, 
murder, and buffoonery which best satisfied the public taste, it is not 
wonderful that he should have seized upon the more romantic of the 
episodes of Italian history in order to let the story-telling in the convent 
parlour run its placid course. 

The tales of wonder and faerie, the special contribution made to 


fiction by the prolific East, had not become widely popular in Italy at 
the time when Ser Giovanni wrote, though the Latin version of the 
<c Hitopadesa," made by John of Capua in the thirteenth century, and 
the M Disciplina Clericalis " of Petrus Alphonsus, must already have 
found their way into many libraries. It is not unreasonable to suppose 
that he may have read these collections, but whether he read them or 
not he certainly laid them under light contribution for his own 
work. 1 Whatever of the supernatural or the marvellous appears in the 
<f Pecorone " is given as an extract, and is taken from monkish legend 
and not from Eastern fairy tale. In two cases where he and Straparola 
deal with the same motive the versions of the two writers may be 
compared to show how widely different was their method. One is 
Day IX., Novel II., of the " Pecorone," and Night III., Fable IV., 
of the " Piacevoli Notti." In Straparola's rendering Fortunio gains 
admission to his lady's chamber by his magic power of transformation. 
He becomes an eagle, and flies up to her balcony, where he once more 
resumes his shape. Ser Giovanni introduces the eagle indeed, but in 
severely practical fashion. His bird is of gold, made hollow within so 
that Prince Arrighetto may use the same as a vehicle. There is also a 
parallel — less close indeed — between Day X., Novel I., of the f< Pecorone," 
and Night I., Fable IV., of the if Piacevoli Notti." Here Ser Giovanni 
works out his tale without the incident of the magic draught, which in 
Straparola's the princess takes in order to support life during her im- 
prisonment in the chest; but, on the other hand, he brings into his 
version the episode of the monstrous offspring, which is common to the 
story of the Princess Parizade in the " Thousand and One Nights," the 
group of romantic stories from which Chaucer took his " Man of Lawe's 
Tale," and the third Fable of the fourth Night of Straparola. In 
the best known parallels to the famous story of Giannotto — one in 
Dolopathos 2 and one in the Harleian MSS. 3 — a magic feather and a magic 
letter are used by the lady in compassing her design, but Ser Giovanni 
puts aside all supernatural aids and finds the conventional drowsy potion 
sufficient for his purpose. 

1 The episode of the bond, Day IV., Novel I., is of Eastern origin, being found in 
the "Persian Moonshee " (ed. Gladwin, No. 13). Signor de Gubernatis is of opinion 
that this novel was taken by the author of the " Pecorone " from a version of the 
story told by some Venetian, as the words " saniolo " and " fondaco " are local, and would 
scarcely have been current in Tuscany. 

2 L. Deslongchamps, "Essai sur les Fables indiennes," p. 127. 
8 Douce, "Illustrations of Shakespeare," vol. i., p. 281. 


In his attitude towards religion Ser Giovanni shows himself an 
orthodox believer, and his book is one of the few collections of Novelle 
which escaped the Index. The strokes which he gives here and there 
to the priesthood are very mild compared with the whip of Boccaccio, 
and are as nothing at all to the scorpions which Masuccio let fall upon 
the. Jinti religiosi of his day. Both in temporals and in spirituals Ser 
Giovanni was a warm adherent to the papal party in Italy, although 
now and then he lays his hand on the same in judicious chastisement. 
In the story of Messer Alano l he shows scant respect for the papal 
consistory, seeing that he exhibits the collective wisdom and learning of 
the Church on the brink of defeat and confusion at the hands of one 
specious rhetorician, whom Alano subsequently puts to silence with the 
utmost ease. In the novel where he describes the renunciation of the 
papacy by Celestine V., 2 he adds to Giovanni Villani's version of the 
event the legendary episode as to how Cardinal Gaietani (afterwards 
Boniface VIII.) is said to have hidden himself in the pope's bedchamber 
in order to counterfeit the angel of God by blowing a trumpet. In 
other places Ser Giovanni finds much to say in praise of Boniface, and 
it is possible that he saw nothing of fraud or impiety in this trick, but 
simply a display of that astuteness with which the Italian mind is ever 
in sympathy. 

But when he comes to deal with the Church in captivity at Avignon, 
he gives a freer vein to his satire, and treats the Babylonish prelates and 
cardinals with a freedom borrowed from Boccaccio. Ser Giovanni, 
though he was a Guelf, was first of all an Italian, and he, like Italians 
of every faction, had no good word to say for the papacy sitting in con- 
tented degradation over the Alps, after having been lured thither by fraud 
to become the tool of that French king who was the suspected assassin 
of the virtuous Italian pope who had stood in the way of his scheming. 
In the story of Don Placido 3 he gives a sketch of clerical manners which, 
it may be assumed, he would have left unnoticed had the cardinal in 
question lived at Viterbo instead of Avignon. This particular story is 
worthy of remark for another reason. It is certainly one of the most 
telling and characteristic pictures which could possibly be drawn of 
abnegation of what we have learnt to call duty, of the joy of life con- 
trasted with renunciation. Here is no trace of medievalism, with its 

1 Day VI., Novel I. Writing "of the blessed San Maurizio, he says, " E debbi 
sapere che a quel tempo i vescovi non erano fatti come quelli di oggi, ma santi e buoni". — 
Day XI., Novel II. 

2 Day XIII., Novel II. 3 Day III., Novel I. 


conception of this world at the ante-chamber of heaven or hell, but the 
frank abandonment of themselves to the pleasure of the hour by this 
strangely assorted pair of lovers, light-hearted and undisciplined as two 
children of the golden age. As soon as the priest finds out that his 
comrade in travel is no friar, but the fair and lovesome mistress of the 
cardinal in Avignon, the two prepare to make the best of the golden 
minutes before them. " Ora voi sapete chi io sono, e dove io vo ; e pert 
attendiamo a darci buon tempo per questo camino senza nessuno pensiero che 
sia al mondo : e cosifufatto ; che per tutto quel camino nonfecero mai se non 
godere a t avoid e nel letto> sempre cantando e piacevoleggiando, e facendo le 
giornate picciole, col darsi vita e buon tempo" No recognition more 
frankly pagan of the joys of sense as the dearest object of desire is to be 
found in the whole range of the Novellieri, and this instance is all the 
more remarkable from the fact that it stands alone on Ser Giovanni's pages. 

Ser Giovanni seems to have been a keen politician ; and, although 
he was an ardent Guelf, he shows a toleration towards his opponents 
which is not too common in any age, and whenever he felt that the leaders 
of his own party had been in the wrong he did not spare his censure. 
He has little else but praise for Frederic Barbarossa and appreciation of 
his talents and magnanimity, and at the same time he does not hesitate 
to condemn the avarice and brutality of that true son of the Church, 
Charles of Anjou. In writing of the quarrel between Barbarossa and 
Alexander III. he draws the pope in his hour of triumph as a noble and 
majestic figure, and here he is nearer to historic truth than is Masuccio, 
who, in dealing with the same theme, 1 rakes up an old wife's fable as to 
a plot devised by the pope to procure the emperor's murder during his 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land — a plot frustrated by the magnanimity of 
the Soldan Saladin. 

The " Pecorone " has never been done in its entirety into any other 
language, nor is there any trace of an early translation into English of 
the famous story of Giannotto which Shakespeare must have read before 
he wrote the <c Merchant of Venice." Painter gives Day I., Novel I., 
Day XX., Novel II. (in a form quite unlike Ser Giovanni's), and Day IX., 
Novel I. Roscoe has paraphrased Day I., Novels I. and II., Day IV., 
Novel II., Day VIII., Novel I., and Day XIII., Novel I., in his 
" Italian Novelists." The first edition of the work is that of Domenichi, 
published at Milan in 1558 by Antonio degli Antonii ; the second and 
third appeared in 1560 and 565 from the press of Domenico Farri at 
Venice. Two other issues, both imperfect, were published at Treviso 

1 "II Novellino," Novel XLIX. 


by Deuchino in 1601 and 1630. In 1740 one came out at Lucca with 
the false date of a forged edition purporting to have been published at 
Milan in 1554, and in 1793 at Leghorn was published the edition with 
Gaetano Poggiali's valuable introduction. In the reissue of this edition 
in 1804 the three extra novels were first added to the "Pecorone." 
They were taken from a MS. apparently of the end of the fourteenth 
century, formerly the property of Signor Bastian de' Rossi, and later of 
Giuseppe Gradenigo, secretary to the Venetian Council, and they had 
already seen the light in a collection called " Novelle di alcuni Autori 
Fiorentini," published in 1795. The first two — alternate readings 
for Day XX., Novel II., and Day XXI., Novel II. — are mere transcrip- 
tions of Villani ; but the last is more original. In referring to this story 
Signor de Gubernatis suggests that when Domenichi was revising his 
materials for his edition of 1558 he perceived that this novel resembled 
too strongly the Proem and the setting of the work, wherefore he 
replaced it by the story of Democrate. If the strange passage at the 
close of Day XXV., Novel II. (p. 301), is to be treated as autobiographic 
in any sense, the writer of the book — whether Domenichi or another — 
seems to have had amorous conversation with a double of Suor 
Saturnina. He let this experience serve as the pretext and framework 
of his book, which he finished up with a novel having for its subject 
the same experience — a novel stained by the one passage of positive 
indecency which is to be found in the collection, and not unlikely, there- 
fore, to have come from the hand of the associate of Doni and Aretino. 
The redundancy of this particular motive seems to have struck him, 
wherefore he left out the story dealing specially with this episode. 

The edition used for the present translation is that of Turin, 1853. 
Beyond calling attention to a few of the more prominent inaccuracies 
copied by the author from Villani's pages, nothing has been attempted 
by way of correction, a task which in some cases would have swelled 
the footnotes to a bulk equalling that of the text. The question of notes 
has been a difficult one throughout. With historic characters and 
incidents bristling on every page anything like complete annotation would 
have produced a result incongruous with the character of a work of 
fiction, so notes have only been given when they have seemed necessary 
for the purpose of elucidation. The translator cannot bring his work 
to an end without offering to Professor de Gubernatis his sincere thanks 
for the courtesy and kindness which prompted him to offer the result of 
his laborious research to help reveal to English readers a more complete 
notion of the shadowy personality of the author of the " Pecorone." 

Thirteen hundred and seventy-eight the year 
When I, one Ser Giovanni, wrote this book, 
As all may see who list therein to look, 

Wrote it, and set in order, neat and clear. 

To give a name thereto I took small care, 
Since a good friend of mine its title found, 
II Pecoron, for that it doth abound 

With owlish loons, who make within their lair. 

A loon myself, I over these preside, 

And like a bleating calf my way pursue, 

Book-making, and I know not what beside, 
Granted the times be ripe, and that my due 

Of fame and honour with me may abide, 

For praise will greet me from the loutish crew. 

Then marvel not, O reader, if you find 

The book and writer of the self-same kind. 

N order to let fall some sparkling ray of refreshing light 
and consolation upon him who may be in that mood, 
which in times gone by has weighed on me, I am moved 
by charitable and loving zeal to make beginning of this 
book of mine, in which we will treat of a young man 
and a maid who — as you will understand in reading this 
narrative — were most fervently enamoured one of another. And for the 
reason that they knew so well how to keep secret their meetings and to 
bear the yoke of bright-eyed love, they have supplied me with matter 
wherewith to build up the book which follows, especially when I came 
to hear of their graceful inventions, their seemly bearing, and of the 
amorous conversation they held with one another in order to mitigate 
the burning flame of love which consumed them. Wherefore, finding 
myself at Dovadola, with my fortunes blasted, and hunted by ill luck, 
as you will be able to understand while you read this book, and having 
at hand material and invention sufficient to let me tell my story, I began 
this work in the year of Christ mccclxxviii., the year when, by Divine 
grace, Urban VI., my fellow-countryman, was elected to the supreme 
pontificate, the most serene Charles IV. being, by the grace of God, King 
of Bohemia and Emperor of the Romans. 

In the city of Forli, in Romagna, there was a certain monastery where 
dwelt a prioress and several sisters, all women of holy, upright, and 
perfect lives, and amongst them was one called Sister Saturnina, who was 
in the flower of her youth, and as well-mannered, prudent, and fair to 
look upon as nature could have made her. Moreover, on account of 
her honest and heavenly way of life, the prioress and the other sisters 
held her in the highest affection and reverence. The fame of her love- 
liness and virtue shone abroad through the whole country, so richly had 
she been dowered by nature ; and on this account a young man of 

4 SER GIOVANNI. [proem. 

Florence, named Auretto, a prudent, clever, and well-mannered youth, 
one well versed in the ways of the world, and one who had spent the 
greater part of his possessions in his liberal courtesy, became en- 
amoured forthwith of the lovely Saturnina through the fame of her 
beauty, without having ever looked upon her face. Wherefore he 
determined to enter the brotherhood, and to betake himself to Forli, 
and to offer himself as chaplain to the prioress, so that he might have 
conveniency to see Saturnina, so ardently did he burn with love of her. 
Having settled to do this thing, he put in order all his affairs, and 
became a friar, and went to Forli. There he contrived, by enlisting 
with much skill the assistance of some personage of weight, to become 
chaplain to the monastery. He bore himself with so much prudence 
and wisdom that, in a short time, he gained the goodwill of the prioress 
and of all the other sisters, but chiefly he won the favour of Saturnina, 
whom he loved more than his life. 

Now it happened that while the said Brother Auretto gazed in 
honest love at Sister Saturnina, and she at him, Love, whose lesson is soon 
learnt by gentle hearts, 1 bound these two together in such wise that at first 
they would greet each other from a distance with smiles. Then, following 
the course of love, they frequently took one another by the hand, and 
spake together, and wrote numerous letters, their love waxing so rapidly 
that they planned to meet each other at a certain hour in the convent 
parlour, a place which was secluded and little frequented. When they 
had once met and held converse there, they settled to come thither once 
every day, so that they might talk there at their ease. And they made 
a rule that each one should tell a new story every day for recreation and 
delight, which thing was duly brought to pass. 

1 Amor, che a cor gentil ratto s'apprende. Cf. Dante, " Inferno," V. 




Cf)e iFtrst SDap* 


(fcalgano ts enamoured of JBaotmna iHinoccia, toife of JBlesser iotricca. 
Si)e is not minted to listen to f)tm ; out, tjabing limit f)er tmsoanto soeafc 
great praise of (ffialgano, sfje resolbes to oe cruel to f)im no longer. Cfje 
storg of tlje birtuous resolution tafcen 6g ©algano, at tlje moment tofien f)e 
teas aoout to enjog f)er. 

HEN the two lovers aforesaid had duly planned how 
they might meet for converse, as it has already been 
recorded, and when the appointed hour had come, they 
found themselves face to face, and sat down together 
with the utmost joy and delight. Then Frate Auretto 
began to speak in this wise, " My Saturnina, I am fain to 
tell you a story of something which came to pass in the city of Siena, con- 
cerning a certain lady and a gentleman who was enamoured of her. 

In Siena there lived a youth named Galgano, wealthy, nobly born, 
sprightly, and well skilled in all fitting exercises, valiant, brave, high- 
minded and ever courteously disposed towards people of all sorts. Now 
this Galgano fell in love with a lady of Siena whose name was Madonna 
Minoccia, the wife of a certain Messer Stricca, and on this account he was 
wont always to go clad in his lady's colours, and to carry her device,arming 
himself, and jousting, and giving rich banquets for love of her ; but for 
all this Madonna Minoccia would not listen to him, and Galgano was 
brought to such a pass that he knew not what to say or do, seeing how cruel 
was the humour which ruled the heart of this lady, whose welfare he held 
dearer than his own. He sought her at every merrymaking and wedding 
in the city, and he was ill pleased with any day which might pass without 
letting him behold her. Many a time he sent to her messages and 

6 SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

gifts, but she took no heed of these, and became more and more cruel 
every time he addressed her. 

Thus the lover remained some time inflamed with the love and 
devotion he had for her, and often he would cry out in passionate tor- 
ments, and say, * Ah, Love my Lord, canst thou let me love in this wise 
without winning aught in return ? Canst thou not see that this is 
contrary to all thy laws ? ' And thus many and many a time, as he 
considered how great was the cruelty of the lady, he was fain to despair. 
But like a discreet wooer he resolved to submit to this yoke as long as 
Love should will, always hoping the while to find grace in his lady's 
sight, and striving, both by word and deed, to let ensue all such things 
as might best please her, but she remained quite inflexible. Now one 
day it happened that Messer Stricca and his fair lady were at their 
country house near to Siena, when by chance Galgano went by with a 
sparrowhawk upon his fist, making believe to be going fowling. But 
he was in sooth bent on naught else than to get sight of the lady, where- 
fore he passed close by the house where she abode. Messer Stricca 
beheld him, and straightway knew who he was, and, having gone to 
meet him, grasped him by the hand in familiar wise, and begged him to 
be pleased to take his supper with Madonna Minoccia and himself. But 
Galgano after thanking him said, £ I am exceedingly grateful, but I must 
beg you to hold me excused, forasmuch as I am going to a certain place 
on business of great weight.' Then said Stricca, c Take at least a 
draught with us,' whereto the young man replied, c I thank you much, 
and God be with you, but I am in haste.' Then Messer Stricca, seeing 
what mood he was in, let him pass on and went back into the house. 

Galgano, as soon as he had parted from Messer Stricca, said to him- 
self, { Ah, woe is me ! why did I not do his bidding ? then at least I 
should have seen her who has my good will beyond any other in all the 
world.' And while he thus pondered, a magpie rose near him, where- 
upon he let go his hawk, which pursued the pie into Messer Stricca's 
garden, and there seized it. Messer Stricca and his wife, when they 
beheld the hawk, ran to the window, and the lady, remarking the 
fierceness with which the hawk attacked the pie, asked her husband to 
whom it belonged. Messer Stricca answered, ' This hawk is fortunate 
in resembling its owner, for he is the most valiant young gentleman in all 
Siena, and the most accomplished.' The lady asked what his name 
might be, and her husband answered, f This hawk belongs to Galgano, 
who went by lately. I was fain he should stop and sup with us, but he 
would not. He is in sooth the most gracious and worthy young man I 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 7 

have ever seen.' Then they went to their supper, and Galgano, having 
lured back his hawk, departed. The lady meantime took note of all 
that had been said, and kept it in mind. 

It happened that a few days later Messer Stricca was sent by the 
commune of Siena on a mission to Perugia, and left his lady alone. 
She, as soon as her husband had ridden off, sent a maid who was in 
her confidence to Galgano, with a message begging him to come to 
her, forasmuch as she was fain to have speech with him ; and, as soon 
as the message was delivered, Galgano replied that he would assuredly 
do her bidding. He, knowing that Messer Stricca had gone to Perugia, 
set forth at a befitting hour in the evening towards the dwelling of her 
whom he loved as he loved his own eyes. When he was come into the 
lady's presence, he greeted her with deep reverence ; whereupon she took 
him by the hand in sportive guise, and embraced him, saying, £ In sooth, 
my Galgano is a hundred times welcome,' and without farther discourse 
they gave one another loving greeting, over and over again. Then the 
lady bade them bring wine and sweetmeats ; and, after they had partaken 
of the same in company, she took him by the hand and said, ' My 
Galgano, it is time to go to rest, wherefore let us to bed.' To this 
Galgano answered and said, c Madonna, I am altogether at your service.' 
And when they had entered the bedchamber, after much and delightful 
conversation, the lady undressed herself and got into bed, and said to 
Galgano, f It seems to me that you are somewhat abashed and fearful. 
What is the reason of this ? am I not to your liking ? are you displeased 
with aught ? have you not got all you desire ? ' Galgano answered, ' Ah 
yes, madonna. Indeed, God could give me no greater boon than to let 
me find myself in your arms.' And as they went on talking over this 
happy event, he undressed himself, and got into the bed beside her for 
whom he had longed so ardently these many months. 

Now, as he lay down by her, he said, ' Madonna, there is one favour 
I have to beg of you, with your good pleasure.' The lady made answer, 
1 Ask what you will, my Galgano, but I would that you should first 
embrace me ; ' and this Galgano did, and went on to say, ' Madonna, I 
wonder greatly what led you to send for me this evening, rather than at 
any other time during all the months I have desired and followed you, 
you meantime having denied me both words and glances. What has 
moved you at last ? ' The lady said, f I will tell you. You know that 
a few days agone you passed hereby with your hawk, and when my 
husband saw you he was fain that you should sup with us, but you 
refused. Then your hawk flew at a magpie, and I, seeing how bravely 

8 SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

it clutched its quarry, asked my husband as to whom it belonged. He 
replied that its owner was the most worthy gentleman in Siena, and that 
his hawk was well matched with him ; saying likewise that he had never 
beheld anyone so accomplished as you are. He praised you to me so 
highly that I, hearing you lauded thus, and knowing what kind feeling 
you had towards me, determined to send for you, and to be no longer 
cruel to you. This is the reason for what I have done/ Galgano 
inquired if this were really the truth, and the lady replied that it was. 
c But was there no other reason ? ' he said ; whereto she answered that 
there was indeed no other. Then said Galgano, * It cannot be God's 
pleasure or will that, after your husband has used so great courtesy to 
me, I should put such disgrace upon him.' Whereupon he sprang out 
of bed at once, and, having dressed himself, bade farewell to the lady 
and went his way, nor did he ever again cast eyes upon her with 
such intent, and always bore himself towards Messer Stricca with peculiar 
love and reverence." 


JSucciolo anto petto $aolo go to stutig at bologna. ISucctolo, fjabing cent 
licensed to practise tf)e lato, resolbes to return to 3&ome toitfjout f)ts frtento, 
out aftertoarfcs settles to toait for tjt'm* i&eantime fie asfes tfie master 
to|)o i)as tauojt turn tofjat is tlje rig|)t toag to mafte lobe. Cfje gooti fortune 
tofncf) oefell f)im tfjereanent, antr tf)e ebtl case of tlje master. 

HEN the novel was finished Saturnina began and said, " This 
tale indeed pleased me greatly when I learned the constancy 
of this gentleman at the moment when he held in his arms 
her whom he had desired for so long a time. If I had been 
in his place, I know not what I should have done. And now I will tell 
you a story which I believe you will find diverting," and she began in 
these words : 

" In the family of the Savelli at Rome there were at a certain time two 
young men who were close friends and companions, one of whom was 
called Bucciolo and the other Pietro Paolo. They were well-born and 
plentifully supplied with the world's goods, and it chanced that they were 
both of them seized with the desire to go and study at Bologna, the one 
intending to study civil and the other statutory law. Wherefore, having 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 9 

bidden their kinsfolk farewell, they took their way to Bologna ; and, 
when they arrived there, they set themselves to study the laws as they 
had settled, and kept diligently at their learning for some time. Now 
it must be well known to you that the statute law is far less in volume than 
the other branch, and on this account Bucciolo, who had engaged himself 
with the first named, mastered his work much more rapidly than did 
Pietro Paolo, and, as soon as he had graduated, he made up his mind 
to go back to Rome. One day he said to Pietro Paolo, c Comrade, 
since I have now graduated I have resolved to return home.' Where- 
upon Pietro Paolo answered him and said, c I beg you that you will not 
leave me here alone, but that you make it your pleasure to tarry with me 
here during the winter, and when the spring shall have come we will 
return home together. You might occupy yourself meanwhile by study- 
ing some new science, so as not to waste your time/ 

Bucciolo was content to follow his friend's suggestion, and promised 
to wait for him, and it came to pass that to avoid loss of time he went 
to his master and said, ' I have made up my mind to await here until 
my friend and kinsman shall be ready to depart; wherefore I beg you 
that you will vouchsafe to teach me meanwhile some seemly science or 
other.' To him the master replied that he would do this with pleasure, 
and added, c And now you must make choice of whatever science you 
wish to learn, and I will willingly teach you the same.' Then said Buc- 
ciolo, ' My master, I would fain learn how to make love, and how to 
set about such work.' The master could scarce keep from laughing as 
he listened, and said, ' In sooth your choice pleases me well, for you could 
not possibly have fixed upon any other science which would have given 
me so much delight. Now on Sunday morning I would have you go to 
the church of the Friars Minor, where you will be sure to find all the 
ladies of the city gathered together, and then consider well in your mind 
whether you may not espy there some one or other who pleases your 
fancy. When you have found such an one, follow her up, and do not 
lose sight of her till you shall have discovered where she lives. Then 
come back to me. This is the first part of the science that I would have 
you learn.' 

Whereupon Bucciolo went his way, and on the following Sunday 
morning he betook himself, as his master had directed him, to the church 
of the Friars ; and, having cast his eyes round upon the assembled ladies, 
of whom there were a great number, he espied amongst them one who 
pleased him mightily, forasmuch as she was exceedingly fair and graceful. 
When the women went out of the church, Bucciolo followed after this 


io SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

lady, and saw and noted the house where she lived. She, when she 
observed his doings, was well advised that this scholar was beginning to 
be enamoured of her. Then Bucciolo went back to the master and said, 
' I have not failed to do the thing you directed me to do, and indeed I 
have seen a lady who pleases my taste exactly. ' When he heard this 
the master was hugely delighted, and fell to bantering Bucciolo some- 
what with regard to the particular science he was so full of desire to 
learn, and spake to him thus : f Now see that you fail not to pass by 
her house twice or thrice every day with modest and seemly carriage, and 
be sure to keep your eyes well within bounds, and do not let it appear as 
if you were looking at her ; but take as much pleasure as you can from 
the sight of her, so that she, observing this, may be fully assured that 
you are her well-wisher. When you have done this, come back to me, 
for this is the second part of your lesson.' 

Bucciolo went at once from the master's presence and forthwith began 
to walk up and down in front of the lady's house in discreet fashion, so 
that she doubte4 not that he had come thither for her sake. On this 
account, after a short time had passed, she would cast now and then a 
glance at him ; whereupon Bucciolo gave her a modest salute, a courtesy 
which she returned again and again. Thus Bucciolo deemed that the 
lady was indeed enamoured of him. He took an account of all that 
had passed back to the master, who answered and said to him, ' What 
you have done pleases me much, and I am quite contented. You have 
learned your lesson well up to this point, but now it will be necessary for 
you to find some means of getting one or other of those women who 
are wont to go about Bologna selling veils and satchels and such things, 
to speak to her, and then you must send word to the lady, and tell her 
that you are her servant, and that there is no one in all the world who 
possesses your goodwill so completely as she does, and that you are 
ready to do anything to give her pleasure which she may demand. Then 
you will see whether she may have aught to say to you, and whatever her 
answer may be, you must come and give me information thereof, and 
according to its terms I will let you know what it behoves you to do next.' 

Bucciolo took his leave, and managed to find a pedlar-woman who 
was well fitted to discharge an office of this sort, and said to her, * I 
desire greatly that you should do me a most pressing service, one for 
which I will pay you liberally, so that you shall be well satisfied.' The 
woman made answer, ' I will do for you whatever you may ask of me, 
for I come here for no other reason than to earn an honest penny.' 
Thereupon Bucciolo gave her two florins, and said to her, f I wish you 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. n 

to go this day into a street which is called La Mascarella, where there 
lives a young gentlewoman whose name is Madonna Giovanna, a lady 
whom I love more than any other in the world. I want you to com- 
mend me to her, and furthermore to tell her that I am ready to do any- 
thing that may be her pleasure. Be sure to tell her all this in those soft 
words which you assuredly know so well how to use.' Then said the 
old woman, f Leave all this business to me, and I will find a fitting time 
for the discharge thereof.' Bucciolo replied, ' Go about it at once, and 
I will await you here.' 

The pedlar-woman straightway departed, taking with her a basket 
of her wares ; and, having gone to the house of the lady aforesaid, she 
found her seated in her doorway. After she had given the lady saluta- 
tion, she said, c Madonna, is there amongst these wares of mine any- 
thing which it would please you to possess ? Should there be any, take 
it without hesitation, if so be it will give you pleasure.' And with 
these words she sat down by the lady's side and began to show her the 
veils, and the satchels, and the ribbons, and the mirrors, and all the 
other things she had to sell. When she had looked at many of the old 
woman's wares, she came upon a satchel there which pleased her greatly ; 
whereupon she said, ' In sooth, if I had money therefor, I would willingly 
buy from you this satchel.' The woman said, c Madonna, there is no 
need for you to trouble yourself on that score. If there should be any- 
thing here which pleases you, take it at once, for all these wares are 
paid for already.' The lady was mightily astonished when she heard 
these words, and at seeing how great were the blandishments which the 
old woman used upon her, so she said, c My good woman, what do you 
mean by speaking such words as these to me ? ' Whereupon the 
pedlar-woman, almost ready to shed tears, said, f I will tell you all 
about the matter. The truth is, that there is a young gentleman whose 
name is Bucciolo, and he it is who has sent me to you. He loves you 
well, and nourishes for you greater kindness than for anyone else in the 
world ; nay, there is not anything lying within his powers which he 
would not do for your sake. He protested to me indeed that God 
could show him no greater favour than to make you command him to 
do some service on your behalf. In truth, it seems to me that he is 
wasting away, so great is his desire to have speech with you, and, besides 
this, I do not think that I ever saw a more worthy and upright youth 
than he is.' The lady, when she heard these words, blushed the colour 
of scarlet, and, turning to the pedlar-woman, spake thus, f If it were 
not that I feel obliged to spare you for the sake of my honour, I would 

iz SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

handle you in a fashion that would make you lament the day you ventured 
to address me in such wise. How, indeed ! are you not ashamed, 
profligate old wretch as you are, to come with such discourse to an 
honest woman ? May God vex you therefor ! ' And with these words 
the young lady caught up the crossbar of the door, in the mind to lay 
it over the old woman's back, crying out the while, c If you ever dare 
to come back here, I will belabour you in such fashion that you will 
never be able to show yourself again.' 

Upon this the old woman gathered together her wares with all 
possible speed and hurried away as fast as she could go, for she was in 
great dread lest she should be made to feel the weight of that crossbar, 
and she felt herself in no way safe until she had returned to the place 
where she had left Bucciolo. As soon as Bucciolo saw her he asked 
her what news she had to tell him, and how the affair was progressing ; 
whereupon she answered and said, 'It is going on very badly, for indeed 
I never felt so great fear in all my life, and the upshot of the matter is 
that the young woman will neither see you nor listen to your messages. 
And if I had not chanced to get me quickly out of her reach, I should 
surely have been made to taste the quality of a heavy crossbar which 
she had in her hand. As far as I am concerned, I am in no mind to go 
back to her, and I will advise you also to entangle yourself no farther 
with her.' Bucciolo was greatly perturbed and grieved at what the old 
woman had to tell him, and went straightway to the master, and let him 
know all that had come to pass. 

But the master gave him encouragement and said, c Do not despair, 
Bucciolo, for the tree does not fall at the first stroke. But be sure that 
you fail not to pass by her house this evening, and then you can note 
what sort of glance she gives you, and see whether she appears angered 
with you or not. Then come back here to me and report what you 
have seen.' Thereupon Bucciolo betook himself towards the house 
where his lady dwelt, and she, as soon as she beheld him approaching, 
called to one of her maids and said to her, ( Follow that young man and 
tell him from me that he is to come to my house to-night and speak to 
me, and on no account to fail.' The maid set out forthwith, and went 
to Messer Bucciolo and said to him, ' Messere, Madonna Giovanna 
has bidden me to ask you to come to her to-night, as she wishes to 
speak to you.' Bucciolo was much astonished when he heard this, and 
answered her saying, £ Take word back to her from me and tell her that 
I will gladly do her bidding.' And he went straightway to the master to 
let him know how the business was going on. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 13 

The master was greatly astonished at what he heard from Bucciolo, 
and now indeed he began to suspect that this lady might perchance 
prove to be his own wife, as indeed she really was. Wherefore he said 
to Bucciolo, ' Well, and will you go to her as she asks ? ' and the 
young man answered that he would assuredly go to meet the lady. 
Then the master went on and said, ' When you go on your errand, see 
that you pass by here on your way,' and Bucciolo assured him that he 
would not fail to do this, and departed. Now, as it has already been 
noted, this young woman was the master's wife, but of this Bucciolo had 
no knowledge. Moreover, the master had more than once been seized 
with jealousy on her account ; for during the winter it was his wont to 
sleep at the schools, in order that he might give instruction to the 
scholars during the evening, while his wife was left alone in the house 
with the maid. 

Now the master said to himself, c It is not at all to my taste that 
this youth should become proficient in the science of love-making at my 
cost; therefore I must find out how the matter stands.' When Bucciolo 
came to him in the evening, and told him that he was now on the way 
to his appointment, the master said to him, c Good, and be sure that 
you bear yourself discreetly.' Bucciolo answered that the master might 
well leave this to him, and took his departure. 

Bucciolo had been careful to put a stout cuirass upon his back, and 
to take with him likewise a good knife and a sword of proof, so he did 
not enter upon this adventure like a fool. After a few minutes had 
passed the master followed upon the track of his pupil, who, all unwit- 
ting that he was being thus dogged, went up to the door of the lady's 
house and knocked thereat. She at once opened it to him, and he went 
in. When the master saw that it was indeed his wife who was engaged 
in this business, he almost swooned, and cried out, ' Now I see that this 
fellow has learnt his lesson at my expense.' Then he began to cast 
about in his mind how he might take his vengeance by killing Bucciolo; 
and, having hastily gone back to the schools, he borrowed a sword and 
a dagger, and then returned, raging with anger, to his house with the 
intention of working some injury to Bucciolo. When he had come to the 
door he began to knock at it like one in great haste, and the lady, who 
was seated at the fireside with her lover, was at once seized with the 
fear that this must be the master; wherefore she took Bucciolo and 
concealed him straightway under a heap of linen, recently washed and 
not yet dry, which she had piled up on a table under the window. 
Having done this, she went to the door and demanded who was there ; 

i 4 SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

whereupon the master called out, ' Open the door and I will soon let 
you know, wicked woman that you are.' Whereupon his wife opened 
the door to him at once ; and, marking that he had a sword in his hand, 
cried out, c Alas ! my lord, what is the meaning of this ? ' The master 
said, c You know well enough what man it is you have in the house.' 
His wife replied, f Woe is me ! What is this you are saying ? Are you 
out of your mind ? Search everywhere for what you are seeking, and 
if you find any man here, cut me in pieces. Why should I begin now- 
a-days to do what I have never thought of doing hitherto ? Take care, 
my good sir, lest the great enemy should make you see certain things 
which may cause you to lose your wits.' In spite of these words the 
master made them kindle for him a torch, and then he began to hunt 
about amongst the casks in the cellar. After this he went upstairs 
again and searched every corner of the bedchamber, and looked under 
the bed, thrusting his sword through the straw mattress and piercing it 
with holes in every part. In short, he searched every hole and corner of 
the house without having the wit to find what he was seeking. 

In the meantime his wife always kept close to his side with the torch 
in her hand, crying out from time to time, c Good master, see that you 
cross yourself, for of a surety the enemy of mankind must be tempting 
you, and stirring up your imagination to perceive certain things which 
could not possibly have any existence ; for, if there was a single hair on 
my body which thought to do the things you speak of, I would kill my- 
self outright. Therefore I pray you, for God's sake, not to suffer yourself 
to be thus tempted.' On this account the master, when he saw that there 
was no one in the house, and listened to what his wife had to say, was 
fain to believe that he had been deceived. Then, after tarrying a short 
time longer, he put out the torch and went back to the schools. As 
soon as he was out of the way Madonna Giovanna locked the door, 
and made Bucciolo come forth from under the heap of linen. After they 
had kindled a big fire they made a good supper off a fine fat capon, and 
drank therewith wine of various sorts, and thus they feasted most excel- 
lently well. Many times the lady said to the youth, c See now, my 
husband has no notion of what we are doing.' And after they had 
feasted with much jollity to their hearts' content, the lady took Bucciolo 
by the hand, and led him into the bedchamber, where with merry 
sporting they went to bed together, and all through that night they took 
their fill of that pleasure which they both desired, giving one another the 
greatest delight over and over again. 

When the night, for which they had longed so ardently, came to an 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 15 

end, the day broke, and Bucciolo having got up from the bed said to the 
lady, f Madonna, I must needs now take my leave; have you any com- 
mands to lay upon me ? ' Then the lady replied, * Yes, I desire that 
you should come to me again to-night.' Bucciolo assured her that he 
would not fail her in this, and when he had taken leave of her he left the 
house and made his way back to the schools, and said to the master, c I 
have somewhat to tell you which will make you laugh.' The master 
demanded to know what this might be ; whereupon Bucciolo said to him, 
c Last night, when I was in the house of the lady I told you of, lo and 
behold ! her husband came all unexpectedly and searched the house from 
top to bottom, but he could not find me, forasmuch as his wife had hidden 
me away beneath a pile of linen which had been washed and was not yet 
dry. And to make a short story of it, the lady knew so well how to 
cajole her husband that she induced him to go away. After this we 
took our supper off a fat capon, and drank the most delicate wines, and 
altogether spent the night in the greatest feasting and jollity you ever 
heard of, and thus we took our diversion till the day broke. And be- 
cause I slept scarcely at all last night, I must now go and take a little 
rest, seeing that I have given her my promise to go back to her this 
evening.' The master said to him, c See that you let me know when 
you are about to return to her.' Bucciolo said that he would willingly 
do this, and went away, leaving the master so greatly inflamed with rage 
that he could find no rest for his grief, and was quite unable to do his 
teaching in the schools, so sharply was his heart vexed with indignation ; 
but, having made a plan how he might catch Bucciolo when evening 
should have come, he provided himself with a cuirass and a helmet for 
the adventure. 

When it was drawing towards evening Bucciolo, who knew naught 
of these preparations, went innocently to the master, and said to him, 
4 1 am now going to the lady's house.' The master answered him, 
1 Go, and come back here to-morrow morning, and let me know how 
you have fared.' Bucciolo said that he would not fail to do this, and 
then went forthwith to the house of Madonna Giovanna. As soon as 
he was gone the master caught up his arms and followed close behind 
him, almost step for step, having planned to come up with him on the 
threshold. But the lady, who was on the alert, opened the door very 
quickly, and, having let in her lover, she closed it again and turned the 
key. The master followed the next moment, and began to knock and 
make a great uproar ; whereupon the lady immediately put out the light 
and made Bucciolo get behind her as she stood in the passage. Then 

1 6 SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

she opened the door, and, embracing the master with one arm, with the 
other she thrust Bucciolo forth from the house in such wise that her 
husband caught not a glimpse of him. Then she began to scream 
aloud, c Help, help ! for the master has gone mad,' holding him tight 
in her arms meanwhile. The neighbours, when they heard the noise and 
uproar she made, ran together to the house, and, seeing the master 
there fully armed, and hearing the outcry of the lady, who went on 
exclaiming, c Hold him tight, for he has lost his wits through too much 
study,' they understood what was the matter, and believed that he was, 
indeed, out of his mind, and began to say to him, c Now, good master, 
what is the meaning of this ? Go to bed and rest, and do not struggle any 
more.' Whereupon the master cried out, * How should I go to bed 
and rest myself when I know that this wicked woman has a man in the 
house ? I myself saw him enter.' Madonna Giovanna, when she heard 
this, cried out, ' Ah, what a wretched life I have to lead ! Ask every one 
of our neighbours here whether anybody has ever heard of misconduct 
of mine.' Then all the men and women there assembled exclaimed, 
f Master, you must not harbour such thoughts, for there was never born 
into the world a woman of better nature, or manners, or reputation, than 
your good wife here.' The master said, f How can this be, when I 
myself saw a man enter the house, and know quite well that he is still 
hiding there ? ' 

In the meantime the two brothers of the lady had joined the 
gathering ; and she, when she saw them, burst into tears immediately 
and said, £ My brothers, this husband of mine has gone mad, and has 
dared to say that I have a man concealed in this house. Moreover, he 
is fain to kill me. Now you will know well enough whether I have 
ever been the sort of woman of whom such slanderous words might be 
spoken.' The brothers cried out, * We are indeed amazed that you 
should call our sister a lewd woman. Why should you hold her to be 
one now, more than heretofore, seeing that you have lived a long time 
with her ? ' The master replied, c I can tell you naught else than 
that there is a man in the house, and that I have seen him with my own 
eyes.' Then said the brothers, c Well, come and let us search for 
him, and if he is indeed here we will advance this fact against her, and 
cause her to be punished to your full satisfaction.' Then one of the 
brothers called to his sister and said, c Tell me all the truth. Have 
you anyone hidden here in the house ? ' whereto the lady answered, 
1 Alas ! what are you saying ? Christ defend me from this, and let me die 
sooner than that a single hair of me should think of doing such wicked- 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. i 7 

ness. Alas, alas ! is it likely that I should now set myself to do a 
thing of which no one of our family was ever accused ? Are you not 
ashamed even to speak to me thereof? ' 

The brothers were well content with what their sister said, and they, 
together with the master, went forthwith to search the house. The 
master flew straight to the pile of linen, and began to run it through and 
through with his sword, fighting with it as if it had been Bucciolo 
himself, for he was well assured in his mind that Bucciolo was hidden 
thereunder. Wherefore Madonna Giovanna cried out : c Did I not 
tell you that he was out of his mind ? You fool, to go and spoil all 
this good linen. It is easy to see that you never span it.' When they 
saw this the brothers were well assured that the master had gone mad, 
and after they had searched every place closely without finding anyone, 
one of them said, c This man is indeed mad,' and the other cried out, 
1 By my faith, O master, you are guilty of a foul wrong when you try 
to make out that this sister of ours is a lewd woman.' Whereupon the 
master, who was mightily incensed, and was quite well assured in his 
own mind as to what had really happened, now broke out into a terrible 
passion against the brothers, and threatened them with the naked sword 
he held in his hand ; whereupon each of the brothers caught up a stout 
stick and gave the master so sound a drubbing therewith that both of 
the sticks were broken over his back. Next they tied him up as a mad- 
man, saying that he had lost his wits through overmuch study, and all 
that night they remained in their sister's house. 

On the following morning they sent for a doctor, who caused a bed 
to be prepared for the master close to the fire, and gave orders that he 
should not be suffered to hold converse with anyone; that, when he 
should speak, no answer should be returned to him, and that he should 
be kept on very strict diet until his wits should be sharpened once 
more. And all these directions were carried out to the full. 

The news how the master had gone mad was soon spread all through 
Bologna ; whereupon all those who heard it grieved amain, saying one 
to the other, * Of a certainty I suspected something of this sort 
yesterday, for the reason that he was quite unable to deliver his lecture.' 
And another one said, f I too remarked that he was mightily changed.' 
So that on this account men went about saying that the master had gone 
mad, and divers of his acquaintance went in company to pay him a 
visit. Bucciolo, who knew naught of what had happened, went to the 
schools brimful with delight to tell the master how he had fared last 
night, but when he arrived there he was told how the master had 


1 8 SER GIOVANNI. [day i. 

suddenly lost his wits. Bucciolo was greatly astonished at this, and found 
it almost incredible, and he went with the others to visit the sick man. 

But when he came to the master's house he was seized with the 
greatest astonishment, and was ready to faint when he perceived how 
the case really stood ; still, in order to let no suspicions get abroad, he 
went in with the rest, and when he entered the room he saw the master, 
all battered and bound with a rope, lying on the bed near the fire. All 
the scholars who were there went and condoled with him, saying how 
much grieved they were for what had happened. And Bucciolo felt 
that he must needs go and speak a word also ; wherefore he drew 
near to him and said, c My master, I am as sorely grieved for you as if 
you were my own father, and, if there be aught that I can do on your 
behalf, do not fail to regard me as your own son.' The master 
answered and said, c Bucciolo, Bucciolo, go your way in God's name, 
for you have learnt your task only too well, and learnt it, moreover, at 
my expense.' Madonna Giovanna, when she heard this, cried out, 
1 Take no heed of his words, for he raves and knows not what he is 
talking of.' Then Bucciolo took his leave and returned to Pietro 
Paolo, and said to him, f My brother, I would have you stay here in 
Bologna, and finish your studies alone, in God's name. I, in sooth, have 
learnt so much that I am not minded to learn anything more.' And 
thus he went his way and returned to Rome, good luck attending him." 

As soon as the novel was finished, Frate Auretto said, " My Saturnina, 
I have assuredly never listened to a better tale than this. Bucciolo 
certainly got his learning finely at the cost of his master. Now I am 
going to sing you a canzonet which a youth once upon a time made in 
honour of his mistress, whom he loved better than his own life, when he 
chanced to see her clad in a tunic, with a bow in her hand." And thus 
he sang : 

Lifting my eyes a maiden fair I spied, 
With bow in hand and arrows by her side, 

While meseemed her dainty weed, 

Angel's colour white and fine. 
Face and bosom, flowers indeed, 
Bright as roses newborn shine. 
I picture thus this lovesome damsel mine, 
Whose clear and lucent eyes the golden stars outvied. 

With Love's aid her bow she bent, 

And those arms so soft and white 
To my heart an arrow sent; 

Faint I lay in woeful plight. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 19 

Of her my fancy tires not, and my sight 
To gaze upon this radiant star is satisfied. 

When first I saw her beauteous face 

Whose slave I am by Love's decree, 
With her divine and merry grace 

She smiled and greeted courteously ; 

I gave her back her smile forthwith, and she 
Caught up her bow and lodged an arrow in my side. 

Her laughing eyes are like a bow, 

Wherefrom those gilded darts are sped 

More keen than those her hand doth throw. 
Bear witness ye whose hearts have bled, 
Ye upon whom her darts of proof are shed, 
Which deepest in the life their barbs malignant hide. 

Then with a sweet and amorous sign 

My angel took farewell of me, 
And gazing on this flower divine, 

I cried, " Now go, and happy be, 

For in thyself that sweet of love I see, 
Excelling all, with thine own courtesy beautified." 

As soon as the song was finished the two lovers clasped each other 
by the hand in joy and gladness, expressing mutual gratitude for the 
pleasure and delight they had experienced in their conversation, and 
after some further discourse together they said farewell and departed. 

Ct)e Second 2Dap> 


Jftationna (Eotsina of Naples sntfos %tx son to stutrg at bologna, tofiett f)* 
fails stcfc ano ties, ©f a otbice of tits contttbrti so tfjat t)ts motijir mag 
not oe ober=firtebrt» at i)ts treatfj. 

HEN the two lovers met in the parlour on the second 
day they greeted each other with eager longing, and 
then the fair Saturnina began to address Auretto in 
these words, and thus told her story : 

tc I am minded to tell you a tale of what happened at 
Naples to a widow lady and to her son, whom she had 
sent to study at Bologna. This lady lived in Naples, and was called by 
name Madonna Corsina. She was a native of Capua, and was the wife of a 
goodly gentleman, one Messer Ramondo del Balzo, who, by the will of 
God, died and left her a widow and the mother of one son. This boy was 
named Carlo, and in his speech and actions he greatly resembled Messer 
Ramondo his father ; wherefore his mother, who desired naught but 
his welfare, bethought her to send him to study at Bologna, in order 
that he might grow up a man of parts, which plan she duly carried out. 
She engaged for him a tutor, and provided him with books and with 
all that he needed, and, having commended him to God, sent him to 
Bologna, where she let him abide several years, and gave him whatso- 
ever he might require. 

The young man made the best use of his time at Bologna, and in 
a very short time became a capable scholar, so much so that he won the 
goodwill of all the students of the place on account of the excellent 
qualities he possessed and of the seemly and magnanimous life he lived. 
Now it came to pass, when this youth had grown to man's estate, and 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 21 

had graduated in the law, and had got in order all his affairs for his 
return to Naples, he fell ill and like to die, whereupon all the physicians 
of Bologna came to him to try to cure him and save his life, but this they 
could not compass. Whereupon Carlo, when he perceived that he was 
beyond cure, spake in this wise to himself: ' 1 am not perturbed, nor do I 
make this plaint so much for my own sake, as for the sake of my discon- 
solate mother, who has no other child but me, and has expended all 
that she has in the world in the expectation that I should be the solace 
of her life ; nay, indeed, she may have dreamt of forming some 
powerful family connection through my marriage, and have hoped that 
I should be the one to restore the fortunes of our house. And when 
she shall hear that I am dead, and that she may never see me more, of 
a truth she will die a thousand deaths.' Thus he grieved more for his 
mother than for himself; and, as he let these thoughts pass through his 
mind, he pondered over what he should do in order to lessen his 
mother's grief; wherefore he wrote to her in these words : f My dearest 
mother, I beg that you will send me a shirt sewn by the hand of that 
Neapolitan lady who is the merriest and the fairest and the least 
molested by care.' This letter came duly to the mother's hand ; and, 
as soon as she had read it, she set forth to search and inquire for some 
lady who was unvexed by care — a difficult task in sooth, but one which 
she was anxious to compass so as to serve her son. At last, after seeking 
diligently, she found a certain lady who seemed to her more beautiful 
and merry than any other in the city ; moreover, she bore herself like 
one unvexed by any care or trouble whatsoever. Whereupon Madonna 
Corsina betook herself in friendly wise to the house of this young lady, 
who graciously bade her enter, and told her that she was a thousand 
times welcome. Then Madonna Corsina spake and said, f I wonder if 
perchance you can divine wherefore I have come to you ; it is, forsooth, 
because I think of you as the merriest woman in Naples, and the one 
least vexed with care and trouble. On this account I want you to do 
me a great service, to wit, that you will sew for me with your own 
hands a shirt which I may send to my son, who has begged me for a 
gift of the same.' Then said the young woman, ' You say that you 
have taken note of me, and esteemed me to be the happiest woman in 
Naples ? ' To this Madonna Corsina assented ; whereupon the young 
woman went on, c I will now show you that it is quite otherwise with me, 
and that a more unhappy woman, or one with more sorrows and troubles, 
does not live on the face of the earth. To be assured that what I say 
is the truth, come with me now.' And having thus spoken, she took 

22 SER GIOVANNI. [day a. 

Madonna Corsina and led her into an outward chamber, where she pointed 
out the body of a young man hung up by the neck from the cross-beam. 
Madonna Corsina, as soon as she beheld this, cried out, ' Alas ! what 
means this ? ' and the young woman, sighing deeply, said, ' Madonna, 
this was a young man of great worth who was enamoured of me, but 
one day he was discovered by my husband, who straightway hanged 
him up here, as you now see him ; and, in order to render me the more 
wretched, he makes me look upon this corpse every morn and every eve. 
I needs must see him, and you may judge how sharp a grief it is to be 
thus forced to behold him every morning and every evening. But if, 
in spite of all this, you are still minded that I should sew a shirt for you, 
I will willingly do the same, but I cannot do it as the happiest of 
women ; nay, rather I am the most wretched woman there is or ever was 
in the world.' 

Madonna Corsina, when she heard this, was greatly astonished, and 
said, f Of a truth, I see there is no one who is free from toil and tribula- 
tion, and those who are merriest in seeming are often in the most evil 
case.' Then she took leave of the young woman and returned home, 
and wrote word to her son that he must hold her excused, forasmuch as 
she could not send him such a shirt as he desired, because she could find 
no woman who was not afflicled with care and trouble as much as she 
could bear. A few days later a letter came to her, telling her that her 
son was dead ; whereupon, being a wise woman, she took thought and 
said, f I see there is no one in the world who is free from sorrow. Even 
the Virgin Mary, who was in sooth the woman of women, had her share ; 
wherefore I will have patience, seeing that I am not alone. May God 
rest his soul, and not forget me ! ' In this wise she recovered her peace 
of mind, and spent her life in prosperity and good fortune." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 23 


iSuonfcelmonte falls m lobe tottf) Jitcolosa, toljo fjatr raarrfrt one of tf)e famtlg 
of &cctatuolt, foes of tfje ^uonMmontt, anfc bg tjje ijelp of a serbmfl* 
tooman contribes to flam aomtsston to Jjer oeto. Cf)e nattattbe of tofjat 
tfje latog oito thereupon ; fjoto peaee bias restored bettoeen tfje ttoo families, 
anti fjoto tfje souns man eompasseti Sis benfleance. 

HEN Saturnina had brought her novel to an end, Frate 
Auretto began and spake thus : " My Saturnina, I have 
found your story to be a masterly piece of work, and have 
got much pleasure therefrom in reflecting over the prudence 
of this young man, who, by means of his letter, kept his mother from 
dying of grief. However, I will now go on and tell you a tale which 
I think will please you. 

One time there lived in Florence (where they live still) two noble 
families, one called Buondelmonti and the other Acciaiuoli, who dwelt 
opposite to one another in a street called Borgo Santo Apostolo, each 
family being very illustrious and ancient. It happened that by a certain 
disagreement between them they became mortal enemies, and each party 
always went armed about the streets, keeping sharp watch the one on 
the other, and each one taking care to be on guard. One of the Accia- 
iuoli was married to a lady who was the proudest beauty in all Florence, 
and was named Nicolosa ; and a certain youth of the Buondelmonti fell 
deeply in love with her. The lady could not move about her bed- 
chamber without being seen by him from his own window, which was 
opposite, and many a time he had sight of her during the summer when 
she rose naked from her bed. Now Buondelmonte, being inflamed with 
love of her and conscious of the enmity of her husband, knew not what 
he should do, but one day he determined to speak to the lady's waiting- 
woman ; and, observing this woman going to market in the morning, he 
called to her, and begged her to do him a service. Then he took from 
his purse six grossi, and said to her, f Go and buy with this money what- 
soever you will.' The maid, who was mightily pleased with the money, 
took it and replied, f What would you have me do ? ' Buondelmonte 
answered, c I would that you speak well of me to Madonna Nicolosa, 
and tell her from me that she is the sole joy of my life, and that it be- 
hoves her to take pity upon me.' The maid said, c How can I ever 

24 SER GIOVANNI. [day ii. 

tell her such a thing? You know that her husband is your enemy.' 
Buondelmonte went on, ' Trouble not yourself on this score ; only tell 
her what I have told to you, and let me know what answer she gives 
you/ Then the maid answered she would do as he desired. 

One day it chanced that the lady and the waiting- woman were 
together at the window, when the last-named let forth a deep sigh ; 
whereupon her mistress asked her what ailed her. The maid answered 
that it was naught ; but the lady went on and said, ' I desire you to tell 
me at once what is the matter with you, for people do not sigh so deeply 
without some cause.' The woman answered, c Madonna, you must 
pardon me, for I can never tell you.' f I must assuredly know,' said 
the lady, ' otherwise I shall be wroth with you.' Then said the woman, 
' Since you are so keenly set to know, I will tell you. The truth is, that 
the young Buondelmonte who lives opposite has begged me, over and 
over again, to carry a message to you, but I have never found the 
courage to do this thing.' The lady said, c Well, and what did this 
wretch say to you ? ' The maid replied, f He bade me tell you that 
there is no one in the world he holds in such kindly regard as yourself, 
and that there is nothing he would not do for your sake, so great is the 
love he has for you. He begs, too, to be suffered to become your 
faithful servant, for he will be under your command alone, and declares 
that he shall hold himself as most highly favoured if he may only do 
somewhat to give you pleasure.' To this the lady answered, c The 
next time he holds any such discourse with you, see that you give him a 
slap on the face, and come no more to me with tales like this, for you 
know well that he is my husband's enemy.' The maid waited a little ; 
then she went out and called Buondelmonte, and said to him, £ She will 
not hear of you or of your doings.' Buondelmonte answered, f Be not 
amazed at this. It is what ladies always do the first time ; but take 
care, the next chance that comes, and when she is in good humour, that 
you tell her this once more, and that I am mad with love of her. Then 
I promise you that you shall have a smarter gown than the one you are 
now wearing.' The maid answered, f Let me alone to do this.' 

One day, when Madonna Nicolosa was about to go to a merry- 
making, and her maid was helping her dress, it came to pass that they 
began to converse on the same matter, and the lady said, f Has this 
wretch had any more to say to you ? ' The maid straightway fell to 
weeping, and answered, f I would that I had died the hour and the day 
I came to abide in this house.' The lady asked her why, and the 
woman replied, f Because Buondelmonte has laid siege to me, and I can 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 25 

neither stay at home or go abroad without finding him hovering about 
me, standing with his arms crossed, and begging me to tell you how he 
is pining and wasting away for your sake, and how he is blessed indeed 
whenever he hears you, or sees you, or listens to others talking about 
you. In sooth, I have never seen devotion greater than his, and I, for 
my own part, know not what more to say to you, except to pray you in 
God's name to relieve me of this trouble and grief; or to give me leave to 
depart and disappear from the world, or to kill myself, so as to be rid of 
him ; forasmuch as he knows so well how to supplicate me, and speaks so 
delightfully that I cannot think how anyone can say him no. I wish 
greatly that it might have been consistent with your honour to have 
listened to him just once, so that you might see whether I tell the truth 
or no.' The lady asked, l Is he really so mad with love of me as you 
say ? ' Whereto the maid answered that he was lovesick a hundredfold 
more than she had said. Then the lady went on, c The next time you 
see him, tell him, from me, to send me a gown of cloth like that which his 
sister wore this morning in church.' And to this the maid answered that 
she would do what the lady desired. 

Now, when Madonna Nicolosa had gone out, the maid went to 
Buondelmonte and told him all her mistress had said. ' Wherefore,' she 
added, 'you must keep your wits about you, and consider what you 
have to do.' Buondelmonte answered, c Leave this for me to do, and 
good luck go with you.' He at once got him a fine gown of the stuff 
the lady had asked for, and caused it to be steeped and dressed ; and, 
when it seemed to him due time, he gave a sign to the maid and said, 
4 Carry this to the lady whose servant I am, and tell her that this cloth, 
and my soul and body, are ever at her disposal.' The maid made 
haste and bore it quickly to the lady, saying, f Buondelmonte declares 
that this cloth, and his soul and body, are ever at your commands.' 
The lady took the cloth, and, having looked at it, said, ' Now go and 
tell my Buondelmonte I thank him hugely, and bid him be in readiness to 
come to me whenever I may send for him.' The woman hastened to 
Buondelmonte and gave him the message, whereto he answered, 'Tell 
her that I am always ready to do her pleasure.' 

It happened that the lady — the better to carry out the design she 
had formed — feigned to be ill, wherefore the physician was quickly 
fetched to see her. She declared that she would fain have a room on 
the ground floor, and her husband at once made them get ready a couch 
in a room there, which was furnished with everything she required. 
When this was done, she went to rest therein, together with a chamber- 

2 6 SER GIOVANNI. [day u. 

maid and her own waiting- woman. Her husband every evening when 
he came home would ask his wife how she fared, and, after tarrying 
with her for a short time, would retire to his own room. Every morning 
and evening the doctor paid his visit, and everything necessary was 
always at hand. Now, when the lady deemed that the time was fitting, 
she sent word to Buondelmonte bidding him come to her the following 
night at nine o'clock; and to him it seemed that this hour was a 
thousand years in coming. When it was time, he went in careful 
wise and well prepared to the door of the lady's house, and when he 
knocked thereat they opened to him, and he went in. Thereupon the 
lady took him by the hand and led him into the room, and, having 
made him sit down beside her, asked him how he fared. Buondelmonte 
replied, f Madonna, I fare well enough now that I have won your good- 
will.' The lady went on : f My Buondelmonte, I have kept my bed 
for the past eight days, solely so that we might the more privily come to- 
gether. Now I have let prepare a bath of sweet-smelling herbs, in which 
I am minded that we should bathe together ; and this done, we will go to 
bed.' Buondelmonte, when he heard this, declared he was ready to do 
anything which the lady might desire. 

She next bade him undress himself and get into the bath, which was 
in a corner of the room; that he should lie down and cover himself 
within with a linen sheet, and throw a serge cloth over the whole, in 
order that no heat might escape. When he had undressed and got into 
the bath, the lad;, said, f Now I will undress also and come to you.' 
Then she took all Buondelmonte's clothes, even his shoes, and put them 
in a cupboard, and locked the door, and, having put out the light, she 
threw herself upon the bed, and began to cry aloud, f Help, help !' and 
to raise a huge uproar. Buondelmonte jumped out of the bath straight- 
way, and began to search for his clothes without finding them, and, 
because it was dark, he could not manage to knock at the door ; 
wherefore, helpless and knowing that he had been befooled, he went 
back to the bath half dead. By this time the whole house was alarmed, 
and Acciaiuolo and his servants caught up their arms, so that all the 
household was ready prepared in an instant. The lady's chamber was 
filled with men and women, and wellnigh everyone in that quarter of 
the city armed himself on account of the feud between these two 
families. Now think what Buondelmonte must have felt when he 
found himself thus stark naked in his enemy's house, and knew that the 
room was full of his foes armed to the teeth ! Wherefore he commended 
his soul to God, and, with his arms crossed, he awaited his death. The 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 27 

husband asked Nicolosa what ailed her, and she answered, f I was taken 
with a sudden illness and vertigo and faintness, so great that meseemed 
my heart had been turned round in my body.' The husband replied 
somewhat angrily, c I feared I should at least find you dead, considering 
the noise you made.' Thereupon the women round about her began 
to rub her arms and her feet, while some brought hot cloths, and others 
rose water ; the men having left the room. The husband said, ' This 
is a sudden illness which has seized my wife, though indeed she has 
been somewhat ailing for many days past.' Soon afterwards the crowd 
went away, the husband going up to his room above to get to bed, 
but several women remained to bear the lady company. 

After a little time the lady feigned that her distemper had passed 
away ; whereupon she bade the women around her good night, saying, 
c I should be grieved if you were to pass a bad night on my account.' 
So they departed, leaving with her the chambermaid and the waiting- 
woman. As soon as they were gone she got up and bade them bring a 
pair of clean sheets and make the bed afresh ; and, when she deemed the 
time had come, she dismissed the maids, and then, having locked the 
door and kindled a taper, she went to the bath, where she found 
Buondelmonte now little better than a dead man. She spoke to him, 
but he said nothing ; and then she got into the bath beside him, em- 
bracing him and saying, c My Buondelmonte, here am I, thy Nicolosa ; 
hast thou not a word to say to me ? ' And with these words she took 
hold of him, and dragged him out of the bath, and put him in the bed, 
and warmed him, saying the while, C I am thy Nicolosa, whom thou 
hast so ardently desired to have all this time ; now thou hast me in thy 
power, and canst do with me as thou wilt.' But he, poor rogue, was 
so disabled with cold that he could not even speak. After a little, how- 
ever, he recovered somewhat and said, ' Madonna, be kind enough to 
give me leave to depart.' Then the lady, seeing what mind he was in, 
arose, and, having opened the closet, brought forth all his clothes and 
accoutrements ; and he, when he had dressed himself, bade her farewell 
and said, ■ Madonna, may God be good to you, I have had enough this 
time.' And thus he departed to his home, where he lay for more than 
a month by reason of the fright he had gotten. 

But before long, through the chattering of the women, this story 
began to be heard in the city without the names of the actors therein : 
it was simply the tale how a certain lady had put a flout upon a 
lover of hers, and this became the gossip of all Florence. When 
Buondelmonte heard it he many a time feigned that it in no way 

28 SER GIOVANNI. [day h. 

concerned him, and kept silent awaiting his time. And it chanced after 
a while that peace was restored between the two houses, and they who 
were formerly foes became friends and brethren, especially Buondel- 
monte and Nicolosa's husband, for night and day they kept company. 
One morning Madonna Nicolosa called her maid and said, c Go and 
tell Buondelmonte I marvel greatly that, now there be opportunities in 
plenty, he never sends a word to me.' The maid went and spake thus : 
1 My lady is greatly surprised that, now you have the chance, you have 
naught to say to her.' Buondelmonte answered, * Tell Madonna 
Nicolosa that I was never so much her slave as I am now, and if she 
will come one evening and sleep with me, I shall hold myself highly 
favoured indeed.' The maid went back and bore this message to the 
lady, who replied, c Tell him that I am ready to do as he desires, but 
that he must hit upon a scheme to make my husband sleep abroad some 
night. Then I will come to him.' The maid went back and told this 
to Buondelmonte, who was greatly pleased thereat, and said, c Tell your 
lady to leave the settlement of all this to me, and that she had better not 
have any hand therein.' 

Buondelmonte forthwith contrived that an invitation to supper should 
be sent to Acciaiuolo from Camerata, a place about a mile away from 
Florence, and furthermore arranged with the giver of the feast that the 
guest should be detained for the night at the inn, and this plan was 
duly carried out. Then, when the lady's husband had gone out to 
supper, she went to Buondelmonte's house, as it had been agreed, and he 
gave her very gracious welcome in a room on the ground floor. Next, 
after much chatting and diversion, Buondelmonte said to the lady, ( I 
pray you get to bed ; ' whereupon she straightway undressed herself and 
did as he directed. Buondelmonte took all her clothes, and, having 
opened a coffer, he put them therein, and said to her, f I must go up- 
stairs now, but I will return anon.' Whereupon the lady bade him go 
and return quickly. He then departed, and locked the door behind him, 
and, when he had taken off his clothes, he went to bed with his wife, and 
left Nicolosa by herself. The lady lay expecting Buondelmonte's return, 
and when he came not she began to be afeared, remembering the trick 
she had played him with the bath, and said to herself, ' Of a truth he 
is minded to take vengeance upon me.' In this plight she got up and 
searched for her clothes, and, as she could not find them, she became 
half dead with terror. Then she went back to bed, and in what a pass 
she found herself everyone may well imagine. 

When it was about half-past nine Buondelmonte got up and went 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 29 

out of the house, and as he issued from the door he beheld Acciaiuolo 
seated upon a nag, bearing a hawk upon his fist, and just coming 
back from Camerata. After they had saluted one another Acciaiuolo 
took Buondelmonte by the hand and said, * I can tell you that we have 
had fine cheer with capons and roasted quails galore, and the best wine 
I ever drank. All the evening we had you in mind, and lamented that 
you could not come with us to this feast, which certes you would have 
enjoyed amain.' Buondelmonte answered, 'And this last evening I 
have had to sleep with me the fairest lady in all Florence ; nay, I have 
her still in my room. Never before have I tasted such sweet delight.' 
Then said Acciaiuolo, ' I would fain see her ; ' and, taking Buondelmonte 
by the arm, he declared that he would not go away until he should 
have looked upon the lady. Buondelmonte said, J I will let you 
see her willingly, but I desire that you speak not to her in my house. 
Nevertheless, I will see that, if you are so minded, you shall have her in 
your own house to-morrow night, when you may take with her what- 
soever pleasure you" list.' To this the other agreed, and then they 
went into the room where lay the lady, who, as soon as she perceived 
that her husband was there, almost fainted, saying to herself, ' I have 
verily fallen into a nice trap, but 'tis what I deserve,' and she gave her- 
self up for dead. She meantime had thrown herself upon the bed with- 
out any great heed of decency, and Buondelmonte and her husband 
came anear with a lighted torch ; but first of all Buondelmonte took 
hold of the bedclothes, and covered her face therewith, in order that 
her husband might not know who she was. Then he went to the foot 
of the bed and began to uncover her feet and legs, one standing on 
either side of the bed. Buondelmonte said, f Did you ever see legs so 
round and pretty as these legs, which look as if they were of ivory ? ' 
Then they went on to uncover her bit by bit as far as her bosom, 
where were her two little breasts round and firm, the fairest sight ever 
seen. When they had seen everything there was to be seen up to her 
bosom, and had let their eyes have free course so as to assure themselves 
what sweet pleasure might be had with such a lady, Buondelmonte put 
out the light, and, taking hold of Acciaiuolo, led him forth from the 
room, having promised him that he should have the lady with him 
before night. Whereupon Acciaiuolo said, ' Of a surety I never espied 
a lovelier creature than this one, or one with a skin so fair and white. 
Where and how did you meet with her ? ' Buondelmonte answered, 
1 Trouble not your wits about how I got her ; ' and thus talking they 
came to the loggia, and joined a circle of other men who were there, 

■■'■'•'; v ; v: 

Or THF. 



3o SER GIOVANNI. [day h. 

the talk being all about the business of the town council. When 
Buondelmonte saw that Acciaiuolo was engaged in an argument there- 
anent, he hurried back to his room, and, having opened the chest, he 
drew therefrom the lady's clothes, and bade her dress herself, and 
beckoned to the maid to come and accompany her home. He let her 
out by a back door into an alley, so that it might appear she was 
returning from church, and she went back into her house as if naught 
had happened. In this fashion Buondelmonte took vengeance upon 
Madonna Nicolosa for the trick she had played him, as I have already 
told you." 

When she had finished her story, Saturnina said, " Which one of 
these two, think you, was in the sorest terror ? " The friar replied, " I 
reckon it was Buondelmonte, for a double reason." But Saturnina 
said, tc By my faith, I believe that the lady was in the greatest fear, 
because she came nearer than Buondelmonte to be seen and recognized; 
but, let it be how it may, we will judge thereanent some other time. 
Now I will sing you a canzonet which, methinks, you will find to your 

One morning greeted me a maiden bright, 
Sweet as an angel, as the ermine white. 

Her tresses mocked the lion's tawny sheen, 
Her eyes like eyes of falcon peregrine, 
Stately as Juno's bird her walk and mien, 
And lovelier than an angel in my sight. 

For never had mine eyes beheld a thing 
So fresh and fragrant ; like the birth of spring, 
Like to the rose in splendour blossoming, 
Richer than ruby, pearl, or chrysolite. 

Like to a lily pure just gathered, 
On cheek and breast such dainty grace is shed ; 
With golden tresses wound about her head, 
Lovelier then than flower in garden of delight. 

When first my loving eyes on her were bent, 
An arrowy glance into my heart she sent ; 
Then she cried peace in wanton blandishment, 
And I took leave with courtesy polite. 

I listen to her words of kindly grace, 
Upon her lips divine the charm I trace ; 
Then she reveals the radiance of her face, 
Sweeter than bower with jasmine bloom bedight. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 31 

Go, little song, to this dear star of mine ! 
What other maid can match her charm divine? 
And when my arms around her shall entwine, 
Her lips shall give me hundredfold delight." 

After the canzonet was duly sung, the two lovers took each other 
by the hand in modest fashion, and brought their delightsome converse 
to an end, for that evening taking leave with words full of courtesy. 
Then they went their several ways, and retired to their lodging with 
great content. 

tO)e Cl)ir& SDap* 


Bon llacttro, a ^Florentine, trabellmg to &btgnon, ft'nos companionship at 
Jiice in $robence toitf) a friar tofjo is also fiounto to tf)e pope's court, 
2Sut it transpires tf)at tfje friar aforesaid is reallg a latrg of Utterbo, tofjo 
is going to join a certain carbtnal. <©f tlje gooo fortune toljtcf) befell Bon 
^Placioo on tfje roao until t)e came to &btgnon. 

HEN on the third day the two lovers went back to 
their accustomed meeting-place, wherein they found 
such dear delight, they were glad and gay beyond 
measure, and Frate Auretto began and spake thus : 
" My Saturnina, I am fain to tell you a novel which I 
doubt not will please you greatly, and this it is. 
In the Val di Pesa, a country district of Florence, there lived in days 
past a priest named Don Placido, who, on account of certain troubles 
which befell him, determined to go to Avignon. He betook himself in 
the first place to Pisa, where he embarked and sailed as far as Nice in 
Provence, and, having landed, he took lodging in an inn kept by one 
Bartolomeo da Siena. After he had gone to bed, a worthy fellow, a 
servant of the host, entered the room and said to the priest, ' Messere, 
two friars have come here to lodge, and one of them is sorely ill ; where- 
fore, as there is a great scarcity of priests in these parts owing to the 
recent plague, I beg you to come to him and see how he fares.' The 
priest answered that he would go willingly, and straightway donned his 
habit and went to the friar's chamber. One of the friars said to him, 
f Messere, I commend to your good offices this father, my companion.' 
Whereupon the priest sat down upon the bed and began to confess the 
sick friar, and to remind him of his soul's health, telling him and urging 
him that it behoved him to make his peace with God. But the good 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNT. 33 

friar seemed indisposed to listen to this counsel, and in a short time died 
like one in despair. 

The other friar, who was the younger of the two, when he saw that 
his companion was dead, began to weep aloud. The priest consoled 
him, begging him to take comfort forasmuch as all men were mortal ; 
and after a short time the priest took his leave, and prepared to return 
to his own chamber. The friar said to him, c Messere, I beseech you in 
God's name not to forsake me, but to find means to give burial to this 
dead man, paying him all due honour,' and with these words he took 
from his side a purse in which were some thirty florins, and went on, 
* Take this ; spend what is needful, and pay all charges.' The priest 
took the purse, and, having called the men and maidservants of the inn 
and given drink money to each, he despatched them to get in order all 
things necessary for the burial, so that in the morning everything was in 
readiness to bury the friar in seemly fashion. When the priest had paid 
all he went back to the other friar, and comforted him, and gave him 
back the purse with the residue of the money. But the friar, weeping 
the while, inquired of him whither he was bound, and the priest replied 
that he was going to Avignon. Then the friar said, 1 1 will gladly 
accompany you ; ' whereupon the priest agreed, saying, c I am ready and 
willing to have your company, for it is better for each of us to travel 
together than alone.' At these words the friar raised his eyes and seemed 
in better heart, and the priest, when he had looked at his companion, 
thought he had never before seen eyes so beautiful. 

To make matters clear I must tell you that this friar was indeed a 
certain gentlewoman of Viterbo, as you will hear later on ; but the priest 
took her for a man, marvelling at the same time at those beautiful eyes 
and that delicate face. As soon as they had agreed to travel in company 
the friar gav"e to the priest fifty florins, and said to him, f Defray all 
expenses and pay the host what is due ;' which thing the priest did 
accordingly, and then, having mounted their horses, they rode towards 
Avignon. The friar, so as not to be recognized, concealed his face 
with his hat and his cowl, and spake little, and always rode behind ; 
wherefore the priest, deeming that he did this out of grief for his dead 
comrade, would now and again sing a canzonet and say some jesting 
words, so as to drive away these melancholy humours ; but the friar 
still remained silent and pensive, and hung his head. Now one evening 
they arrived at a town called Grasse, and dismounted at an inn kept by 
a certain widow, whose daughter a short time before had likewise lost 
her husband by death. This young woman was very gracious and fair 


34 SER GIOVANNI. [day hi. 

to look upon, and, when the travellers had dismounted, she cast many a 
glance upon the friar, and, marking how graceful and comely was his 
seeming, she fell in love with him and gazed upon him without ceasing. 
The friar said to his companion, f Ask them for a room with two beds 
in it,' and the hostess at once did his bidding. The daughter of the 
hostess cooked the supper with her own hands, and did great honour to 
the guests, talking the while continually with the friar and offering him 
wine on divers pretences as he sat at table. The priest perceived what 
her fancy was, but he dissembled and said to himself, { In sooth I do 
not wonder that she should have lost her wits over this youth, for I have 
not seen so pretty a fellow for many a long day.' When supper was 
finished the priest went out, so as to leave the others more at their ease, 
pondering whether this friar might not be the son of some rich man or 
other, and bound for Avignon to seek preferment, seeing that he had 
with him plenty of money. 

When bedtime had come the priest returned to the inn and said, 
1 Messere, shall we go to bed ? ' and the friar agreed ; and when they had 
gone into the chamber the daughter of the hostess sent by the hand of 
one of the servants a box of sweetmeats and some excellent wine. The 
priest laughed and said, c Of a certainty you must have repeated the 
paternoster of San Giuliano this morning, for you could not have found 
a better lodging or a fairer or more gracious hostess ;' and he began to 
jest with the friar, who laughed somewhat, and then they made merry 
over the wine. The priest went on, c Certes, I will never again travel 
hereby without tarrying at this inn ; but it will behove me always to 
have you with me, for all this honour is done to you and not to me/ 
The friar replied, c In truth this young woman is pleasing enough ;' and 
the priest cried out, c Would that she were going to sleep between us 
two to-night !' c Alack ! what is it you say ? ' said the friar ; whereupon 
the priest replied, c Wait, and we shall see.' 

Meantime the young woman had hidden herself, for she was minded 
to see in which bed the friar was going to sleep, and she partly saw 
and heard what went on between these two. With every word he 
spoke she was more and more pleased with the seemly manners of the 
friar, and what time he delayed getting into bed seemed to her a 
thousand years. Of her spying the friar knew nothing, and after further 
talk he got into one of the beds and the priest into the other. The young 
woman, when she perceived they were both asleep, lighted a candle and 
went softly to the friar's bed, and began to undress herself, and, this 
done, she lay down beside him. The friar, being aroused, raised 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 35 

his head at once and saw it was the young woman ; whereupon he quickly- 
put out the light, and, having caught up his cloak so as not to be 
recognized, he got into the priest's bed and lay down on one side thereof. 
The hostess's daughter was covered with shame and stole out of the 
room ; but the priest neither saw nor heard aught of what had passed, 
and, having had his first sleep, he felt a desire to turn over, and in 
doing this he touched his bedfellow with his arm. He was mightily 
astonished at this ; and when he stretched out his hand and touched a 
bosom, he knew that it was a woman in bed with him, and made sure that 
it was the daughter of the hostess, saying to himself, c This girl deems 
she has gone to bed with the friar, but she has come to me instead, and 
certes I will not fail to give her that which she has come a-seeking.' 
So he turned to her forthwith, and twice gave her full satisfaction. The 
friar did not move, and assuredly was well content, while the priest 
went to sleep again. 

When it was near morning the priest awoke, and called his bedfellow, 
saying, f Ho there ! get up ; it is almost day ; get up, so that your mother 
may not know where you have been/ The girl, when she heard what 
the priest said, saw that he had not recognized her ; wherefore she sat 
up in the bed, and broke out into the heartiest laughter, and then began 
to dress herself. Having drawn the cowl over her head, she stood 
before the priest, who at once saw it was the friar, and made the sign 
of the holy cross. He wellnigh lost his wits for joy when he beheld 
her twisting up her hair, for her tresses were so fair and bright that 
they shone like the sun ; and, when they had dressed themselves, they 
let saddle their horses, and called the hostess and paid her what they 
owed. Then the daughter of the hostess said to the priest, ' Messere, 
this companion of yours is mightily unsociable.' The priest answered, 
c Ah, madonna, you do not rightly know him. I for my part main- 
tain that I never had a more friendly companion ; but he is not used to 
travel.' The young woman replied, 'It indeed seems so.' And then 
they took their leave and set forth on their journey. The disguised 
lady rode in advance, and every time she turned round she perceived the 
priest to be as it were lost in thought, for he was ever thinking over 
what had happened, which seemed to him a strange thing indeed. Where- 
fore the friar waited for him, and said, c Yesterday, Messere, it was I 
who went with a thoughtful face, to-day it is your turn. Now I desire 
that you think no more of this matter ; and, to banish your troublous 
thoughts, I will tell you who I am, and whither I am bound. It is 
indeed true that I am no friar, but a woman, as you know full well. 

3 6 SER GIOVANNI. [day hi. 

My name is Petruccia, and I am the daughter of Vannicello da Viterbo, 
who in dying left me under the guardianship of my two brothers. It 
came to pass that when Pope Urban travelled through those parts, he 
tarried, as you may have heard, divers days at Viterbo, and during this 
visit a certain cardinal, whom you will see hereafter, came by God's 
will to lodge in our house, and became so greatly enamoured of me, 
and pressed me so hotly, that I yielded myself to him. When the 
court moved on into Provence, the cardinal took me with him, keeping 
me always by his side, and giving me very honourable treatment, and 
loving me better than himself. But when the pope went to Ponte di 
Sorga my lover accompanied him, and left me behind in Avignon with 
two waiting-women and an equerry. It was then that one of my 
brothers, on his return from San Jacopo, arrived in Avignon, and began 
to search for me ; and one Saturday morning, when I had gone to hear 
mass in the church of Sant Asideri, this brother of mine went thither 
likewise, taking with him an intimate friend. When his eyes and mine 
met, he recognized me, and having seized me, bore me away forthwith 
down to the Rhone, where he had got ready a boat for his own voyage. 
I was taken on board this, and we did not halt until we reached Aries. 
Then we travelled by Marseilles, Nice, Genoa, Leghorn, and Corneto, 
my brother being minded many times during the voyage to cast me 
into the sea, and this, indeed, he would have done but for his friend, who 
held him back. While we were together on the boat this gentleman 
became enamoured of me, and asked me in marriage of my brother, who 
readily gave consent, and I was willing to take him as my husband. 
Having come to Viterbo he made me his wife with great rejoicing, and 
took me to his house, but by the will of Fortune he died a month later, 
and it is because of his death that I went away ; for, he being dead, I 
was forced to go back to live with my brothers, and I abode with 
them until lately in great weariness and tribulation. My two sisters-in- 
law compelled me to be their servant, and for the slightest fault they 
reproved me, and called me a lewd woman, wherefore I suffered greatly. 
One day, however, I chanced to see pass a courier bound for Avignon, 
and to him I gave a letter addressed to Monsignore, in which I set 
forth all that had befallen me, and told him that if he wished to have 
me back he had better send for me by some person in whom I could 
trust. Whereupon he sent the same friar who died at Nice, a worthy 
man, to whom he promised to give the first bishopric which might fall 
vacant, if I should be brought safely to Avignon. The friar arrived 
at Viterbo, and found occasion to speak with me in the church of the 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 37 

Augustinians, where he showed me a letter under the cardinal's signa- 
ture and other testimonies, and then we determined what course we 
should follow. After our plans were set in order, my sisters-in-law and 
some other ladies and I myself went one day to the baths of Asinella, and 
when all my companions had gone into the water, I made pretence of 
going out for a little, and, this done, I withdrew quickly and went into a 
wood, where the friar was awaiting me. I stripped off my woman's 
garb, and donned a habit such as friars wear. Then we mounted our 
horses, which were ready for us, and in about three hours we came to 
Corneto, where the friar had let prepare a brigantine, upon which we 
embarked forthwith, and sent back our horses. The sailors put out to 
sea, and we sailed on till we came to Nice in Provence, the friar being 
afflicted so sorely with sea-sickness that he died, as you yourself saw — in 
sooth, he died out of despair that he was unable to take me to the lord 
cardinal. Now you know who I am, and whither I am bound ; where- 
fore let us have a care to give ourselves a merry time on the road, and 
cast all trouble to the winds.' And so indeed it was, forasmuch as long 
as they fared together they took all the joy they were fain of, both at 
board and in bed, singing and jesting and making the long days seem 
short through the merriment of their life ; indeed, the love between 
them waxed so mightily that it would be impossible to tell of all the 
sport they had together, nor was there ever known so genuine a com- 
radeship as theirs. And it chanced, when they arrived at Avignon, that 
they dismounted at an inn which stood hard by the palace of the 
cardinal, and when night was come the so-called friar said to the 
priest, c Say that you are my cousin, and that you have come hither in 
my company, and leave the rest to me ; ' and the priest did as he was 
directed. Then the lady sent to the cardinal's palace for one of the 
servants who was named Rubinetto, who, when he had come, straight- 
way saw who the friar really was and rejoiced greatly. Then he ran 
over to the cardinal, saying, c Monsignore, Petruccia has come back.' 
Whereupon the cardinal was hugely pleased, and said, ' See that she 
be here when I return from the court, and do not fail in this.' The 
servant brought her woman's attire, and the priest helped to dress 
her in the same, which indeed sat very jauntily upon her. And 
though the priest had fallen in love with her when he first beheld her 
in the friar's habit, he found her a thousandfold more lovable in 
woman's weeds, and that evening they exchanged a thousand kisses, 
shedding many tears the while. And in due time the servant came to 
fetch her, and led her away into the chamber of the cardinal, who, as 

38 SER GIOVANNI. [day hi. 

soon as he returned, asked the servant whether Petruccia was there, and 
when he heard that she had come, he ran straightway to the room, and 
kissed and embraced her a hundred times. 

Then she told him the whole adventure, how her brother had taken 
her away by force, and said, c For greater safety I brought with me a 
cousin of mine who is a priest, and he out of regard for you has never 
left me, but has brought me to you with no small trouble.' The next 
morning the cardinal sent for the priest and thanked him, and, having 
made him note down all he had to ask, the cardinal granted him every 
favour he could wish for ; moreover, he gave the priest raiment, and did 
him the greatest honour what time he abode in Avignon. So great was 
the love Petruccia had for the priest, that she refrained not by night or 
by day from commending him to the cardinal, who came to hold him in 
such high esteem that he promoted him to a leading place in his house. 
Now it happened that after a time the priest got what he wanted from 
the court of Avignon, wherefore he determined to return to his home, 
which thing proved a cruel sorrow to Petruccia, but when she saw he 
was minded thereto she submitted. The day of his departure she led 
him to her chest, in which was a casket full of florins, and bade him take 
as many of these as he would. The priest replied, ' My Petruccia, it 
is enough for me that I bear away with me your goodwill ; that is all I 
desire ; gifts of other kind I have no mind for.' Petruccia, when she 
saw how warm was the love the priest bore her, drew from her finger a 
very fine ring, and gave it to him, saying, { Take this, and wear it for the 
love of me, and never part with it till you shall find some woman fairer 
than I am.' The priest answered, c These are mere words. You had 
better keep the ring, forasmuch as to my mind there was never yet born 
a woman more beautiful and lovesome than you.' Then the lady with 
many tears clasped him round the neck with her arms, and he clasped 
her, kissing each other often on the mouth and pressing each other's 
hands. So they said farewell, and the priest, when he had taken his 
leave of the cardinal, returned to his home, good luck attending 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 39 


GTeeeolo of Perugia, fmbtns toasteir all fjia sulistance ober gaaoella, tlje totfe of 
one Eapo, a ^Florentine, tafces serbiee tottf) Eapo as a page. &|)e eraft of tfje 
laog in tafetng fjer pleasure tottl) (Eeeeolo, anto in malting ijtm oeat fjer 
fmsoanto tottfj a 0ttcfe ; ant fjoto it fell out tfjat ti)e Duaoanfc fjelfc (fteecolo 
Nearer tfjan eber, notbutfjatanoing. 

HE novel being finished, the graceful Saturnina began and 
said, " My Auretto, what you have told me has pleased me 
greatly, and I will now tell you a story which, perchance, 
you may find as diverting as your own — one dealing with a 
merry device of a certain lover with a lady of Florence, which thing 
fell out as I will now tell. 

There lived once in Florence a very fair lady named Madonna 
Isabella, the wife of one Lapo, a rich merchant. No other lady of the 
city was so much admired as Isabella, for she was by far the most 
beautiful, and the fame of her was spread all through Tuscany, by 
reason of her loveliness and courtesy and gracious carriage. It chanced 
that her fame reached the ears of a certain rich youth of Perugia, called 
Ceccolo di Cola Raspanti. It was moreover told to him how divers 
gallants jousted to gain her love ; wherefore he bought him horses and 
implements for jousting, and, having clad himself in rich and honourable 
fashion, and put in his purse money enough, and betaken himself to 
Florence, he began to scatter his gold and to consort with the young 
gallants of the city. After a few days had passed, he was seized with 
desire to behold the lady, and as soon as he saw her he fell in love with 
her, saying to himself, c Certes, she is still fairer than I had ever 
believed she could be.' And then he began to seek her presence, and 
to pass frequently by her house, and to play and sing to her, and to give 
banquets and suppers out of the love he had for her, besides frequenting 
all feasts and weddings where she would likely be present. He jousted 
and ran courses, and went on horseback, and clad his servants richly, 
and gave here a garment and there a horse, all for love of her. And 
thus, while his chattels and his money lasted, he was well looked upon 
and received everywhere with honour, but every day he sent word home 
to let sell or pledge some one or other of his goods in order to enable 
him to go on spending as he had begun. This went on for a time, but 

40 SER GIOVANNI. [day in. 

having come to the end of his possessions, he found himself still unable 
to leave Florence, so great was the love he bore this lady. 

Therefore one day he made up his mind, seeing that his means were 
now all gone, to offer himself to serve as page to the husband of the 
lady aforesaid. In this he met with the success he hoped for, inasmuch 
as he found means to engage himself to Lapo, the husband of Madonna 
Isabella, serving him at table, and accompanying him whithersoever he 
might go in town or country. And Lapo was well attended and served 
by him, and held him very dear when he saw how knowing and expert 
he was. Wherefore Ceccolo remained for some time in Messer Lapo's 

But it fell out that Ceccolo continued to be still inflamed with love 
for his lady; wherefore, finding her one day alone, he said to her, 
f Madonna, I commend myself to you, inasmuch as, of everything God 
has created, there is naught I have ever loved and reverenced so much 
as yourself, and as to the past you may determine whether this be true 
or no. For love of you I have spent all I had in the world, and I hold 
myself most highly favoured that I now stand here as your servant, for 
thus I can at least enjoy the sight of you.' The lady answered, f Deem 
not that I forget all you have done for my sake, but I thought that you 
took no more thought of me, for of late you have never given me word 
or sign.' Ceccolo replied that he had done this by way of biding his 
time, and the lady said, c Come to my bed this night, and see that you 
come to the further side thereof; and if I should chance to be sleeping, 
touch my hand gently, so that Lapo may not hear you. I will leave the 
door open, and put out the light ; wherefore come to me without fear, 
and trust to me to do the rest.' And to this Ceccolo answered that he 
would do her bidding. 

After nightfall, at the hour appointed by the lady, Ceccolo went and 
found the chamber door open, and the light extinguished ; and, having 
crept up to the bed on the further side, took hold of the lady's hand. 
As soon as she was aroused, she took him gently by the arm and 
holding him tight, said to Lapo, ' Husband, I would fain talk to you of 
the fidelity of some of your house servants ; for this very day Ceccolo 
came and sought to make dishonest love to me, and I, wishing that you 
might entrap him, told him that I would meet him to-night in the 
loggia. Therefore, if you wish to catch him, put on my raiment, and 
wrap a cloth round your head, and go down to the loggia. There you 
will certainly find him, for he will come in the hope of meeting me, and 
you will know that this story is true.' Thereupon Lapo got up and put 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 4 i 

on his wife's clothes, and, having gone down to the loggia, lay in wait for 
Ceccolo. And as soon as he was gone the lady took Ceccolo in her arms, 
and he returned her embraces, and they took together that delight which 
he had desired so long, and she likewise, exchanging the sweetest kisses 
meanwhile. Then the lady said to him, ' You have heard what I told my 
husband ; now go down and rate him soundly, and take a stick with you 
and thrash him as hard as you can.' Ceccolo answered that she might 
leave this to him, and then he got up, and, having taken a stick, he went 
down to the loggia, where he found the good man, who was waiting for 
him. Ceccolo then cried out, * Ah ! wicked woman that you are, why 
should you think that I would ever consent to put so foul a wrong upon 
my master? What I said to you yesterday was said to put you to the 
proof, and nothing else ; but it seems that you are brazen enough to 
wish to befool your husband, who, forsooth, is the best and worthiest gen- 
tleman in the city.' Then he up with the stick which he carried in his 
hand, and belaboured Lapo over the arms and back, saying, f If I should 
ever see you misconducting yourself with anyone, I will tell Lapo thereof, 
so that he may cut your throat ; and if he shrink from such a task, I will 
do it myself.' 

Wherefore the good man stole back into the house, feeling as if 
every bone in his body were broken ; and when he returned to the bed- 
chamber, his wife asked him how he had fared, and he answered, c Right 
badly, forasmuch as I am bruised all over.' Then said the lady, 'Alas, 
alas ! that cheating loon, has he had the hardihood to lay hands on you ? 
May God give him a bad Easter and a bad year ! ' The husband replied, 
c Vex not yourself over this, for I am even better disposed to him than to 
myself.' The wife said, c But how can you be so kindly disposed to one 
who has thrashed you black and blue ? ' Then she got up and lighted a 
candle, and had care for Lapo's shoulders and arms, which were all livid 
from the blows he had received ; and the lady, when she beheld them, made 
believe to weep and lament ; but her husband said, c Be quiet, and let me 
hear no more of this, for even if he had killed me I should have died 
content, after hearing what he told me.' The lady went on, ' Certes, he 
shall stay no longer in this house.' But Lapo replied, c Take care, as you 
love your life, that you say not a word of this to him. Furthermore, I bid 
you let him come into your room, by day and by night, whenever it may 
please him, for I am convinced that he holds me very dear, and of a 
surety I will never let him go away, for I believe that a more faithful 
servant was never born.' The next morning, Lapo, having bidden 
Ceccolo come to him, said, ' I am minded that this house should be as 


4 z SER GIOVANNI. [day hi. 

your own, and that you enjoy the right to live and die here, and come and 
go according as you may desire, for I have never had a servant who was 
so dear to me as you are.' Ceccolo answered, f You must attribute all 
that I have done, or may do, to the love I have for you ; ' and Lapo said 
that he was well assured of that. Wherefore Ceccolo lived on in the house 
for a long time, and he and the lady enjoyed the sweetest delight together, 
Lapo suspecting naught amiss, and always committing his wife to 
Ceccolo's care what time he might be away from Florence. Thus these 
two found good occasion to fulfil all their desires; and, though a 
chambermaid told Lapo more than once that he was being put to shame 
by what went on in the house, he refused to believe her, and replied, 
saying, f If I were to find him in the very a6t, I would not believe my 
eyes.' On this account, Ceccolo and the lady lived pleasantly all the time 
of their lives, enjoying all the goodly things and happiness of the world." 
When Saturnina had made an end of her story, Auretto said, 
" Certes, I never listened to a more diverting tale than this one. These 
two lovers were indeed well advised and knew how to play their game. 
But, as it is now my turn to sing you a song, I will sing one of a lover 
who had just made peace with his lady." And he sang in this wise: 

Blest be the day on which I read me clear 
Forgiveness in the eyes I hold so dear. 

Long time had I been stranger to those eyes, 

Those truthful eyes, so sweet, so dearly loved. 
Estranged were we by a false traitor's lies, 

Who to deceive my passion pure was moved ; 

Now when I find he hath a traitor proved, 
No heart a lighter load than mine doth bear. 

My gentle lord, grant me this single boon : 

If I so long in angry mood have striven, 
That was the fault of this same traitor loon 

Whose slanderous tongue thy love from mine hath riven ; 

Wherefore, I pray thee, hold me now forgiven, 
So thou to me, and I to thee be near. 

When in her presence I stood once again, 

Where lonely bloomed erewhile that flower divine, 

She greeted and she gave me roses twain ; 
With dainty vermeil lips she smiled benign. 
I gave her but one loving tender sign. 
We spake no word. I turned and left her there. 

When my fair lady had my fault forgiven, 
I lay the faithful slave of her behest, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 43 

I loved her boundlessly, she was my heaven, 
Where after toil and labour I might rest. 
I ever keep her image in my breast ; 
Her love I prize, her constancy revere. 

Go, little song, to this fair flower of nature, 

That star above all other stars on high, 
And make your prayer to this divinest creature, 

That she will let all other swains go by ; 
She who superior shines in form and feature, 

I am her slave, and I her slave will die. 

As soon as the song was finished the two lovers took one another by 
the hand, and with great delight exchanged their words of gratitude, 
saying that they could have wished the novel might have gone on for 
ever, seeing that they found their greatest happiness when they were 
together. Then they said farewell and went their several ways. 

Ci)e jfourrt) 2E>ap* 


G&tannetto after tfje treaty of f)is fattier goes to "Venice, anfo is receibeO as a 
son og Cesser &nsalox>, a toealtfjg merchant. 15eing taften toiti) ocsire 
to see tije toorltr, i)e emoarfes on a s|)ip ano sails to tfje port of ISelmonte. 
flHfjat fjappenefc to tnm in f)is dealings toitf) a certain totooto Xatrfi of ttjat 
place, tofjo tja* promised to marrg ang man tofio sfjoulti lie toitf) Jjer anti 
fiabe enjogment of fjer. 

HEN the two lovers had come on the fourth day back 
to the convent parlour, their wonted meeting-place, 
they met with many gracious salutations, and when 
they had taken each other by the hand and had seated 
themselves, Saturnina said, " I will tell you a story 
which shall be the sovereign and queen of all the 
stories we have told one to the other; and I deem you will get great 
pleasure from hearing the same. 

There was once in Florence, in the house of the Scali, a certain mer- 
chant called Bindo, who had sailed many times to Tana, near to Alex- 
andria, and had likewise adventured in those other long voyages which are 
made for the sake of traffic. This Bindo, who was very rich, had three 
stalwart sons, and when he lay on his deathbed he bade come to him the 
eldest and the second born, and in their presence he made his will and 
left them heirs of all he possessed in the world. But to the youngest 
he left nothing. When the will was completed, the youngest son, who 
was called Giannetto, heard tell of the same, and went to his father's 
bedside and said, f Father, I am greatly astounded at what you have 
done, in taking no thought of me in your testament.' The father 
answered, c My Giannetto, there is no one living I hold dearer than 
you, therefore I am not minded that you should tarry here after my death, 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 45 

but rather that you should betake yourself to Venice to your godfather, 
who is named Messer Ansaldo. He has no son of his own, and has 
written to me more than once to send you to him; moreover, I must tell 
you that he is the richest of all the Christian merchants. Wherefore I 
desire that you go to him after my death and give him this letter. If 
you manage your affairs with prudence, you will become a rich man.' 
The young man answered, c My father, I am ready to do what you 
command.' Whereupon the sick man gave him his blessing, and in a 
few days' time breathed his last. All the sons lamented sorely, and 
buried their father with due honours. 

When a few days had passed the two brothers called Giannetto, and 
said to him, f Brother, it is true indeed that our father has made a will 
leaving us his heirs, and making no mention of you. Nevertheless, you 
are our brother, and from this time you shall have share in whatever 
may be left, equally with ourselves.' Giannetto answered, f I thank 
you, my brothers, for what you offer, but I have made up my mind to 
seek my fortune in some other place. On this I am fully determined ; 
wherefore you can take the heritage sanctified and assigned to you.' 
The brothers, when they saw what his will was, gave him a horse and 
money for his charges. Giannetto took leave of them, and having 
journeyed to Venice and gone to the warehouse of Messer Ansaldo, he 
delivered the letter which his father had handed to him on his deathbed; 
and Messer Ansaldo, when he had read the same, learned that the young 
man before him was the son of his dear friend Bindo. As soon as he 
had read it he straightway embraced Giannetto, saying, f Welcome, dear 
godson, whom I have so greatly desired to see.' Then he asked 
news of Bindo, and Giannetto replied that he was dead; whereupon 
Ansaldo embraced and kissed him, weeping the while, and said, ' I am 
sorely grieved over Bindo's death, inasmuch as it was by his aid that I 
won the greater part of my wealth ; but the joy I feel at your presence 
here is so great that it takes away the sting of my sorrow.' Then he led 
Giannetto to his house, and gave orders to his workpeople, and those 
about his person, as well as to his grooms and servants, that they should 
do service to Giannetto even more zealously than to himself. The first 
thing he did was to hand over to Giannetto the key of all his ready money, 
saying, c My son, spend what you will ; buy raiment and shoes to suit 
your taste; bid the townsfolk to dine with you, and make yourself known; 
for I leave you free to do what you will, and the better you are liked by 
our citizens the better I shall love you.' So Giannetto began to keep 
company with the gentlefolk of Venice, to entertain, to give banquets 

46 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

and presents, to keep servants in livery, and to buy fine horses ; more- 
over, he would joust and tilt, because he was very expert, and mag- 
nanimous and courteous in everything he did. He never failed to 
give honour and respect where they might be due, and he reverenced 
Messer Ansaldo as if he had been a hundred times his father. So 
prudent was his carriage with men of all conditions that he won the 
goodwill of all the people of Venice, who regarded him as a youth of 
the greatest intelligence, and most delightful manners, and courteous 
beyond measure ; so that all the ladies, and the men as well, seemed in 
love with him. Messer Ansaldo had no eyes for any but him, so 
charmed was he with Giannetto's bearing and manners. Nor was any 
feast ever given to which he was not bidden. 

It happened one day that two good friends of his determined to 
sail for Alexandria with some wares laden in two ships, as was their 
annual custom. They said to Giannetto, ' You ought to give yourself 
the pleasure of a voyage with us, in order to see the world, especially 
Damascus and the parts thereabout.' Giannetto answered, ' In faith I 
would go willingly, if only Messer Ansaldo would give me leave.' They 
replied, f We will see that he does this, be sure of that.' They went 
forthwith to Messer Ansaldo and said to him, f We beg you to let 
Giannetto go with us this spring to Alexandria, and to give him a bark 
or vessel so that he may see something of the world.' Messer 
Ansaldo replied that he was willing to let Giannetto do as he liked, and 
the others assured him that the young man would be well pleased to go. 
Then Messer Ansaldo let prepare a very fine ship, which he loaded 
with much merchandise, and supplied with banners and arms and all 
that was necessary. And when all was in readiness Messer Ansaldo gave 
orders to the captain and the crew of the ship that they should do 
whatever Giannetto might direct, and he committed him to their care. 
c For,' said he, c I am not sending him out for the sake of gain, but so 
that he may see the world as it best pleases him.' When Giannetto 
went to embark, all Venice came to see him, for it was long time since 
any ship so fine or so well furnished had left the port ; and when he 
had taken leave of Messer Ansaldo and of his companions he put out to sea 
and hoisted sail, and steered the course for Alexandria in the name of 
God and of good fortune. 

After these three friends in their three ships had sailed on several 
days it chanced that early one morning Giannetto caught sight of a 
certain gulf in which was a very fair port, whereupon he asked the 
captain what might be the name of the place. The captain replied that 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 47 

it belonged to a certain lady, a widow, who had brought many to ruin. 
Giannetto inquired how they had been undone, and the captain replied, 
1 Messere, this lady is very beautiful, and she has made it a law that, if 
any stranger lands there, he must needs share her bed, and, if he should 
have his will of her, that he should have her to wife and be the lord of 
the town and of all the country round. But if he should fail in his venture, 
he must lose all he has.' Giannetto meditated for a moment, and then 
bade the captain land him at the port by some means or other, but the 
captain cried to him, c Messere, take care what you do, for many 
gentlemen have landed there, and every one has been ruined.' But 
Giannetto said, f Trouble not yourself about others; do what I tell you.' 
His command was obeyed ; they put the ship about at once and made 
sail for the port, and those on board the other ships perceived not what 
was done. 

In the harbour the next morning, when the news was spread that a 
fine ship had come into port, all the people flocked to see her, and it 
was told likewise to the lady, who forthwith sent for Giannetto. He 
went to her with all haste and made respectful obeisance ; whereupon she 
took him by the hand and asked who he was, and whence he had come, 
and whether he knew the custom of the land. Giannetto answered 
that he did, and that he had come there by reason of this custom alone. 
The lady said, * You are welcome a hundredfold,' and all that day she 
treated him with the greatest honour, and bid come divers counts and 
barons and knights who were under her rule to keep Giannetto company. 
All these were mightily pleased with Giannetto's manners and his 
polished and pleasant and affable presence. Almost everyone felt kindly 
towards him, and all that day they danced and sang and made merry 
at the court for the sake of Giannetto, and everyone would have been 
well content to own him as over-lord. 

When evening was come the lady took him by the hand and led him 
into the bedchamber, and said, ' Meseems it is time for us to go to bed.' 
Whereto Giannetto made answer, * Madonna, I am at your commands.' 
Then two damsels came, one bearing wine and the other sweetmeats, 
and the lady said, ' Surely you must be thirsty ; drink of this wine.' 
Giannetto took some sweetmeats and drank of the wine, which was 
drugged to make him sleep, and he unwitting drank half a glass thereof, 
as it had the taste of good wine. Then he undressed and lay down on 
the bed, and fell asleep at once. The lady lay down beside him, but 
he woke not till it was past nine o'clock the next morning. As soon 
as it was day the lady arose, and made them begin unload the ship, 

48 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

which was filled with rich and fine merchandise. When nine o'clock 
had struck the waiting-maid went to the bed where Giannetto lay, and 
bade him rise and go his way with God's help, forasmuch as he had 
forfeited his ship and all that was therein. He was greatly ashamed, 
and conscious that he had fared very ill in his adventure. The lady 
bade them give him a horse and money for the way ; and he, after a 
sad and doleful journey, arrived at Venice, but he dared not for shame 
go home. He called by night at the house of one of his friends, who 
marvelled greatly at the sight of him, and said, ' Alas ! Giannetto, what 
means this ? ' and Giannetto made answer, ' My ship struck one night 
upon a rock, and became a wreck, and everything was broken up. One 
was cast here and another there, and I caught hold of a piece of wood, 
on which I reached the shore. I returned hither by land, and here 

Giannetto tarried some time in the house of his friend, who went 
one day to see Messer Ansaldo, and found him in very melancholy 
mood. Ansaldo said, f I am so sorely afeared lest this son of mine 
should be dead, or that he have met some ill fortune at sea, that I can 
find nor peace nor happiness, so great is my love for him.' The young 
man answered, c I can tell you news of him ; he has been shipwrecked 
and has lost everything, but he has escaped with his life.' f God be 
praised for this,' said Messer Ansaldo ; f so long [as he has saved him- 
self I am contented, and care naught for what he has lost. But where 
is he?' The young man replied that Giannetto was in his house; 
whereupon Messer Ansaldo arose forthwith and was fain to go thither, 
and when he saw Giannetto he ran towards him and embraced him, 
saying, c My son, you need feel no shame for what has befallen you, 
inasmuch as it is no rare thing for a ship to be wrecked at sea. Be not 
cast down, for, since no hurt has come to you, I can rejoice.' Then 
he took Giannetto home and cheered him the best he could, and the 
news spread through Venice, everyone being grieved for the loss which 
had befallen him. 

Before long Giannetto's companions returned from Alexandria, 
having won great profit from their venture, and as soon as they 
landed they asked for news of him. When they heard his story they 
went straightway to greet him, saying, c How did you leave our com- 
pany, and where did you go ? When we lost sight of you, we turned 
back on our course for a whole day, but we could neither see aught of 
your ship nor learn where you had gone. Thus we fell into such grief 
that, for the whole of our voyage, we knew not what merriment was, 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 49 

deeming you to be dead.' Giannetto answered, c An adverse wind 
arose in a certain inlet of the sea, which drove my ship on a rock near 
the shore, and caused her to sink. I barely escaped with my life, and 
everything I had was lost.' This was the excuse made by Giannetto to 
conceal his failure, and all his friends made merry with him, thanking 
God that his life had been spared, and saying, f Next spring, with God's 
help, we will earn as much as you have lost this voyage ; so let us now 
enjoy ourselves without giving way to sadness,' and they took their 
pleasure according to their wont. But Giannetto could not banish the 
thought of how he might return to that lady, pondering with himself 
and saying, * Certes, I must make her my wife or die,' and he could not 
shake off his sadness. Wherefore Messer Ansaldo besought him often 
that he should not grieve ; for that, with the great wealth he possessed, 
they could live very well, but Giannetto answered that he could know 
no rest until he should have once more made that voyage over seas. 

When Messer Ansaldo saw what his longing was, he let furnish for 
him in due time another ship, laden with yet richer cargo than the first, 
spending in this venture the main portion of his possessions; and the 
crew, as soon as they had stored the vessel with all that was needful, 
put out to sea with Giannetto on board, and set sail on the voyage. 
Giannetto kept constant watch to espy the port where the lady dwelt, 
which was known as the port of the lady of Belmonte, and, having sailed 
one night up to the entrance thereof, which was in an arm of the sea, 
he suddenly recognized it, and bade them turn the sails and steer into it 
in such fashion that his friends on board the other ships might know 
naught of what he did. The lady, when she arose in the morning, 
looked towards the port, where she saw flying the flag of Giannetto's 
ship, and, having recognized it at once, she called one of her chamber- 
maids and said to her, f Know you what flag that is ? ' and the maid 
replied that it was the ship of the young man who had come there just 
a year ago, and who had left with them all his possessions to their great 
satisfaction. Then said the lady, c It is true what you say, and certes 
he must be hugely enamoured of me, seeing that I have never known 
one of these to come back a second time.' The maid said, c I indeed 
never saw a more courteous and gracious gentleman than he ; ' where- 
upon the lady sent out to Giannetto a troop of grooms and pages, who 
went joyfully on board the ship. He received them in like spirit, and 
then went up to the castle and presented himself to the lady. 

She, when she met him, embraced him with joy and delight, and he 
returned her greeting with reverent devotion. All that day they made 


5 o SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

merry, for the lady had bid come to her court divers ladies and gentle- 
men, and these entertained Giannetto joyfully for the love they bore him. 
The men grieved over the fate which was in store for him, for they 
would gladly have hailed him as their lord on account of his charm and 
courtesy, while the women were almost all in love with him when they 
saw with what dexterity he led the dance, and how he always wore a 
merry face as if he had been the son of some great lord. When it 
seemed to her time to retire, the lady took Giannetto by the hand and 
said, £ Let us go to bed,' and when they had gone into the chamber, 
and had disposed themselves to rest, two damsels came with wine and 
sweetmeats, whereof they ate and drank, and then went to bed. Gian- 
netto fell asleep as soon as he lay down ; whereupon the lady undressed 
and placed herself beside him, but he did not awake from sleep all night. 
As soon as it was day the lady arose and bade them quickly unload the 
vessel, and when it was nine o'clock Giannetto awoke, but on seeking 
for the lady he could not find her. Then he lifted up his head and 
perceived that it was broad day; so he got up, covered with disgrace, and 
once more they gave him a horse and money for the journey, and said 
f Go your way,' and he departed full of shame and sorrow. He 
journeyed for many days without halt till he came to Venice, and there 
he went by night to the house of his friend, who, when he saw him, was 
hugely amazed and said, ' Alas ! and what can this mean ? ' Giannetto 
replied, ' I am in evil case. Accursed be the fortune which led me into 
that land ! ' His friend replied, c Certes, you may well miscall your 
fortune, since you have ruined Messer Ansaldo, the greatest and the 
richest of our Christian merchants ; but still your shame is worse than 
his loss.' 

Giannetto lay hid some days in his friend's house, knowing not what 
to say or do, and almost minded to return to Florence without speaking 
a word to Messer Ansaldo ; but at last he determined to seek him, and 
when Anseldo beheld him he arose and ran to him and embraced him, 
saying, ' Welcome to you, my son,' and Giannetto embraced him, 
weeping the while. Then, when he had learnt all, Messer Ansaldo 
said, c Listen to me, Giannetto, and give over grieving ; for, as long as 
I have you back again, I am contented. We still have enough to allow 
us to live in modest fashion. The sea is always wont to give to one 
and to take from another.' It was soon noised abroad in Venice what 
had happened, and all men were much grieved over the loss which 
Messer Ansaldo had suffered, for he was obliged to sell many of his 
chattels in order to pay the creditors who had supplied him with goods. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 51 

It happened that the adventurers who had set sail with Giannetto 
returned from Alexandria with great profit, and as soon as they 
landed they heard how Giannetto had come back broken in fortune ; 
wherefore they were greatly amazed and said, f This is the strangest 
matter that ever was.' Then they went with great laughter and 
merriment to Messer Ansaldo and Giannetto and said, c Messere, be 
not cast down, for we have settled to go next year to trade on your 
account, seeing that we have been in a way the cause of your loss, 
in that we persuaded Giannetto to go with us. Fear nothing, for 
as long as we have anything you may treat it as your own.' On this 
account Messer Ansaldo thanked them, and said that he had as yet 
enough left to give him sustenance. 

But it came to pass that Giannetto, pondering these matters day and 
night, could not shake off" his sorrow; wherefore Messer Ansaldo 
demanded to know what ailed him, and Giannetto answered, ' I 
shall never know content till I have regained you what I have lost.' 
Messer Ansaldo answered, ' My son, I would not that you should leave 
me again, for it will be better for us to live modestly on what is left to 
us than for you to put aught else to hazard.' Giannetto said, f I 
am determined to do all I can, forasmuch as I should hold myself to be 
in most shameful case were I to bide here in this fashion.' Then 
Messer Ansaldo, seeing that his mind was set thereon, made provision 
to sell all that he had left in the world, and to equip for him another 
vessel ; and, after he had sold everything, so that he had naught left, he 
loaded a fine vessel with merchandise, and, because he wanted yet ten 
thousand ducats to complete his venture, he went to a certain Jew 
of Mestri, with whom he made an agreement that, if he should not repay 
the debt by Saint John's day in the June following, the Jew should have 
the right to take a pound of his flesh, and to cut the same from 
what place so ever he listed. Messer Ansaldo having duly agreed, and 
the Jew having drawn up a binding document with witnesses, using all 
the precautions and formalities which the occasion demanded, the ten 
thousand gold ducats were handed over, and with the same Messer 
Ansaldo supplied all that was wanting in the ship's cargo. In sooth, if the 
other two vessels had been fine and fair, this third was much richer and 
better furnished. In like manner Giannetto's friends fitted out their 
vessels, with the intention of giving to him whatever they might gain by 

When the day of departure had come and they were about to sail, 
Messer Ansaldo said to Giannetto, f My son, you are going away, and 

52 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

you see with what bond I am bound. One favour I beg of you, which 
is, that if perchance you should again miscarry, you will return hither, so 
that I may see you again before I die ; then I shall be content to depart ; ' 
and Giannetto answered that he would do all things which himseemed 
were agreeable to Messer Ansaldo's wishes. Then Ansaldo gave him 
his blessing, and, having taken leave, they set sail on their voyage. The 
two friends who sailed with Giannetto kept good watch over his ship, while 
he thought of nothing else than how he might again drop into the harbour 
of Belmonte. Indeed, he gained over to his interests one of the steersmen 
so completely that he caused the vessel to be brought one night into the 
port of the lady's city. When in the morning the light grew clear, his 
two friends in the other two ships conferred and deliberated, and, since 
they saw nothing of Giannetto's ship, they said one to the other, 'In 
sooth, this is an evil turn for him,' and then they kept on their course, 
wondering greatly the while. When the vessel entered the port all the 
people of the city ran to see her, and when they learned that it 
was Giannetto come once again they marvelled amain, saying, f Certes, 
he must be the son of some great prince, seeing that he comes hither 
every year with such a fine ship and such great store of merchandise. 
Would to God that he were our ruler ! ' Then all the chief men and the 
barons and cavaliers of the land went to visit Giannetto, and word was 
carried to the lady how he was once more in the port. Whereupon she 
went to the window of the palace, and, as soon as she espied the fine 
vessel and the banner thereof, she made the sign of the holy cross and 
said, c Of a surety this is a great day for me, for it is the same 
gentleman who has already brought such wealth into the land.' And she 
forthwith sent for Giannetto. 

He repaired to her presence, and they embraced one another and 
exchanged greetings and reverence, and then the people set themselves to 
make merry all that day, and, for the love they had for Giannetto, they 
held a stately jousting, many barons and cavaliers running a course. 
Giannetto also was minded to show his skill, and indeed he wrought 
such marvellous deeds, and showed such great prowess both with his 
arms and his horse, and won so completely the favour of the barons, 
that they all desired to have him to rule over them. And when evening 
had come, and it was time to retire, the lady took Giannetto by the hand 
and said, f Let us go to bed.' When they came to the chamber door 
one of the lady's waiting-women, who had pity for Giannetto, put her 
lips close to his ear and said in a whisper, ' Make a show of drinking 
the wine, but taste it not.' Giannetto caught the meaning of her 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 53 

words, and entered the room with the lady, who said, c I am sure you 
must be athirst; wherefore I will that you take a draught before you lie 
down to sleep.' Straightway came two damsels, who were as fair as 
angels, bearing wine and sweetmeats according to their wont, and 
making ready the draught. Then said Giannetto, * Who could refuse 
to drink with cupbearers so lovely as these ? ' The lady laughed, and 
Giannetto took the cup and feigned to drink therefrom, but he poured 
the wine down into his breast. The lady however believed that he had 
indeed drunk of the same, and said to herself, c Thou wilt sail here 
again with another ship, for thou hast lost the one in the port.' 

Giannetto got into bed and found himself with his wits clear and full 
of desire, and the time that sped before the lady came to his side seemed 
a thousand years. He said to himself, c Certes, I have caught her this 
time, and she shall no longer have reason to think of me as a glutton 
and a toper.' And, in order to let her come the quicker to bed, he 
began to snore and to feign to be sleeping. When the lady saw this 
she said, c All is well,' and quickly undressed herself and lay down 
beside Giannetto, who lost no time, but, as soon as the lady was under 
the sheets, he turned to her and embraced her, saying, f Now I have 
that which I have so long desired,' and with these words he gave her the 
greeting of holy matrimony, and all that night she lay in his arms ; 
wherefore she was well content. The next morning she arose before 
dawn, and let summon all the barons and cavaliers and many of the 
citizens, and said to them, c Giannetto is your lord ; so let us make 
merry,' and at these words there went a shout through all the land, 
( Long live bur lord, Giannetto ! ' The bells and the musical instru- 
ments gave notice of the feast, and word was sent to divers barons 
and counts who dwelt far from the city bidding them come and see 
their ruler. There were merrymakings and feastings many and sump- 
tuous, and when Giannetto came forth from the chamber they made 
him a cavalier and set him upon the throne, giving him a wand to hold 
in his hand, and proclaiming him lord with much state and rejoicing. 

When all the barons and ladies of the land were come to court, 
Giannetto took to wife the lady with rejoicings and delights so great 
that they can neither be described nor imagined. For at this time all 
the barons and nobles of the country came to the feast, and there was no 
lack of merry jesting, and jousting, and sword-play, and dancing, and 
singing, and music, and all the other sports appertaining to jollity and 
rejoicing. Messer Giannetto, like a high-spirited gentleman, made 
presents of silken stuffs and of other rich wares which he had brought 

54 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

with him. He was a strong ruler, and made himself respected by the 
equal justice he maintained towards men of all classes. Thus he lived 
his life in joy and gladness, and gave no thought to Messer Ansaldo, who, 
luckless wight as he was, remained a living pledge for the ten thousand 
ducats which he had borrowed from the Jew. 

One day Messer Giannetto, standing with his wife at the window of 
the palace, saw, passing through the piazza, a band of men bearing 
lighted torches in their hands, as if they were going to make some 
offering. Giannetto inquired of her what this might mean ; whereupon 
she replied that it was a company of craftsmen going to pay their vows 
at the church of San Giovanni on the festival of the saint. Messer 
Giannetto then remembered Messer Ansaldo, and, having gone away 
from the window, he sighed deeply and became grave of countenance, 
and walked up and down the hall thinking over what he had just seen. 
The lady asked what ailed him, and he replied that nothing was amiss ; 
but she began to question him, saying, { Certes, you are troubled with 
something you are loth to tell me,' and she spake so much on the 
matter that at last Messer Giannetto told her how Messer Ansaldo was 
held in pledge for ten thousand ducats, and that the time for repay- 
ment expired this very day. c Wherefore,' he said, £ I am smitten 
with great sorrow that my father should have to die for me ; for unless 
his debt shall be repaid to-day, he is bound to have cut from his body a 
pound of flesh.' The lady said, c Messere, mount your horse quickly, 
and travel thither by land, for you can travel more speedily thus than 
by sea. Take what following you wish, and a hundred thousand ducats 
to boot, and halt not till you shall be come to Venice. Then, if your father 
be still living, bring him back here with you.' Whereupon Giannetto 
let the trumpets sound forthwith, and, having mounted with twenty 
companions and taken money enough, he set out for Venice. 

When the time set forth in the bond had expired, the Jew caused 
Messer Ansaldo to be seized, and then he declared he meant to cut away 
from his debtor the pound of flesh. But Messer Ansaldo begged him to 
let him live a few days longer, so that, in case Giannetto should return, 
he might at least see his son once more. The Jew replied that he was 
willing to grant this favour, as far as the respite was concerned, but that 
he was determined to have his pound of flesh according to his agree- 
ment, though a hundred Giannettos should come ; and Messer Ansaldo 
declared that he was content. All the people of Venice were talking 
of this matter, everyone being grieved thereanent, and divers traders 
made a partnership together to pay the money, but the Jew would not 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 55 

take it, being minded rather to do this bloody deed, so that he might 
boast that he had slain the chief of the Christian merchants. Now it 
happened that, after Messer Giannetto set forth eagerly for Venice, his 
wife followed immediately behind him clad in legal garb and taking two 
servants with her. 

When Messer Giannetto had come to Venice he went to the Jew's 
house, and, having joyfully embraced Messer Ansaldo, he next turned to 
the Jew, and said he was ready to pay the money that was due, and as 
much more as he cared to demand. But the Jew made answer that he 
wanted not the money, since it had not been paid in due time, but that he 
desired to cut his pound of flesh from Ansaldo. Over this matter there 
arose great debate, and everyone condemned the Jew ; but, seeing that 
equitable law ruled in Venice, and that the Jew's contract was fully set 
forth and in customary legal form, no one could deny him his rights ; 
all they could do was to entreat his mercy. 

On this account all the Venetian merchants came there to entreat 
the Jew, but he grew harder than before, and then Messer Giannetto 
offered to give him twenty thousand, but he would not take them ; then 
he advanced his offer to thirty, then to forty, then to fifty, and finally to 
a hundred thousand ducats. Then the Jew said, ' See how this thing 
stands ! If you were to offer me more ducats than the whole city of 
Venice is worth, I would not take them. I would rather have what this 
bond says is my due.' And while this dispute was going on there 
arrived in Venice the lady of Belmonte, clad as a doctor of laws. She 
took lodging at an inn, the host of which inquired of one of her servants 
who this gentleman might be. The servant, who had been instructed 
by the lady as to what reply he should make to a question of this sort, 
replied that his master was a doctor of laws who was returning home 
after a course of study at Bologna. The host when he heard this did 
them great reverence, and while the doctor of laws sat at table he 
inquired of the host in what fashion the city of Venice was governed ; 
whereupon the host replied, ' Messere, we make too much of justice 
here.' When the doctor inquired how this could be, the host went on 
to say, * I will tell you how, Messere. Once there came hither from 
Florence a youth whose name was Giannetto. He came to reside with his 
godfather, who was called Messer Ansaldo, and so gracious and courteous 
did he show himself to everyone, that all the ladies of Venice, and the 
gentlemen as well, held him very dear. Never before had there come 
to our city so seemly a youth. Now this godfather of his fitted out 
for him, on three different occasions, three ships, all of great value, and 

56 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

every time disaster befell his Venture. But for the equipment of the last 
ship Messer Ansaldo had not money enough, so he had perforce to 
borrow ten thousand ducats of a certain Jew upon these terms, to wit, 
that if by the day of San Giovanni in the following June he should not 
have repaid the debt, the Jew aforesaid should be free to cut away, from 
whatever part of his body he would, a pound of flesh. Now this much- 
desired youth has returned from his last voyage, and, in lieu of the ten 
thousand ducats, has offered to give a hundred thousand, but this 
villainous Jew will not accept them ; so all our excellent citizens are come 
hither to entreat him, but all their prayers profit nothing.' The doctor 
said, c This is an easy question to settle.' Then cried the host, c If you 
will only take the trouble to bring it to an end, without letting this good 
man die, you will win the love and gratitude of the most worthy young 
man that ever was born, and besides this the goodwill of every citizen of 
our state.' 

After hearing these words of the host the doctor let publish a notice 
through all the state of Venice, setting forth how all those with any 
question of law to settle should repair to him. The report having come 
to the ears of Messer Giannetto that there was come from Bologna a 
doctor of laws who was ready to settle the rights and wrongs of every 
dispute, he went to the Jew and suggested that they should go before 
the doctor aforesaid, and the Jew agreed, saying at the same time that, 
come what might, he would demand the right to do all that his bond 
allowed him. When they came before the doctor of laws, and gave him 
due salutation, he recognized Messer Giannetto, who meantime knew 
not the doctor to be his wife, because her face was stained with a certain 
herb. Messer Giannetto and the Jew spake their several pleas, and set 
the question fully in order before the doctor, who took up the bond and 
read it, and then said to the Jew, ' I desire that you now take these 
hundred thousand ducats, and let go free this good man, who will ever 
be bound to you by gratitude.' The Jew replied, c I will do naught 
of this.' Whereupon the doctor persuaded him again thereto, saying it 
would be the better course for him, but the Jew would not consent. 
Then they agreed to go to the proper court for such affairs, and the 
doctor, speaking on behalf of Messer Ansaldo, said, ' Let the merchant 
be brought here,' and they fetched him forthwith, and the doctor said, 
f Now take your pound of flesh where you will, and do your work.' 

Then the Jew made Messer Ansaldo strip himself, and took in his 
hand a razor which he had brought for the purpose ; whereupon Messer 
Giannetto turned to the doctor and said, ' Messere, this is not the thing 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 57 

I begged you to do.' But the doctor bade him take heart, for the Jew 
had not yet cut off his pound of flesh. As the Jew approached, the 
doctor said, c Take care what you do ; for, if you cut away more or 
less than a pound of flesh, you shall lose your own head ; and I tell you, 
moreover, that if you let flow a single drop of blood, you shall die, for 
the reason that your bond says naught as to the shedding of blood. It 
simply gives you the right to take a pound of flesh, and says neither 
less nor more. Now, if you are a wise man, you will consider well 
which may be the best way to compass this task.' Then the doctor bade 
them summon the executioner, and fetch likewise the axe and the block ; 
and he said to the Jew, c As soon as I see the first drop of blood flow, I 
will have your head stricken off.' Hereupon the Jew began to be afeared, 
and Messer Giannetto to take heart ; and, after much fresh argument, the 
Jew said, * Messer doctor, you have greater wit in these affairs than I have ; 
so now give me those hundred thousand ducats, and I will be satisfied.' 
But the doctor replied that he might take his pound of flesh, as his bond 
said, for he should not be allowed a single piece of money now ; he should 
have taken it when it was offered to him. Then the Jew came to 
ninety, and then to eighty thousand, but the doctor stood firmer than 
ever to his word. Messer Giannetto spake to the doctor, saying, c Give 
him what he asks, so that he lets Messer Ansaldo go free.' But the 
doctor replied that the settlement of the question had better be left to 
himself. The Jew now cried out that he would take fifty thousand ; but 
the doctor answered, c I would not give you the meanest coin you ever 
had in your pouch.' The Jew went on, c Give me at least the ten 
thousand ducats that are my own, and cursed be heaven and earth ! ' 
Then said the doctor, l Do you not understand that you will get nothing 
at all ? If you are minded to take what is yours, take it ; if not, I will 
protest, and cause your bond to be annulled.' 

At these words all those who were assembled rejoiced exceedingly, 
and began to put flouts and jests upon the Jew, saying, c This fellow 
thought to play a trick, and see he is tricked himself.' Then the Jew, 
seeing that he could not have his will, took his bonds and cut them 
in pieces in his rage ; whereupon Messer Ansaldo was at once set free 
and led with the greatest rejoicing to Messer Giannetto's house. Next 
Giannetto took the hundred thousand ducats and went to the doctor, 
whom he found in his chamber making ready to depart, and said, 
* Messere, you have done me the greatest service I have ever known, 
and for this reason I would that you take with you this money, which, 
certes, you have well earned.' The doctor replied,' Messer Giannetto, 


58 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

I thank you heartily ; but as I have no need of the money, keep it your- 
self, so that your wife may not charge you with wasting your substance.' 
Messer Giannetto answered, ' By my faith, she is so generous and 
kindly and good, that, even were I to lavish four times the money I 
have here, she would not complain ; in sooth, she was fain that I should 
take with me a much greater sum than this.' The doctor inquired 
whether Giannetto were contented with this wife of his, and Giannetto 
replied, f There is no one God ever made who is so dear to me as she is; she 
is so prudent and so fair that nature could not possibly excel her. Now, 
if you will do me the favour to come and visit me, and see her, I trow 
you will be amazed at the honourable reception she will give you, and 
you can see for yourself whether or not she is all that I now tell you.' 
The doctor of laws replied, ' I cannot visit you as you desire, seeing 
that I have other business in hand; but, since you tell me that your 
wife is so virtuous a lady, salute her on my behalf when you see her.' 
Messer Giannetto declared that he would not fail to do this, but he still 
urged the doctor to accept the money as a gift. 

While they were thus debating the doctor espied upon Messer 
Giannetto's hand a ring, and said, ' I would fain have that ring of yours, 
but money of any sort I will not take.' Messer Giannetto answered, 
' It shall be as you wish, but I give you this ring somewhat unwillingly, 
for my wife gave me the same, saying that I must always keep it out of 
love for her. Now, were she to see me without the ring, she would 
deem that I had given it to some other woman, and would be wroth 
with me, and believe I had fallen in love otherwhere, but in sooth I love 
her better than I love myself.' The doctor replied, c Certes, if she 
loves you as much as you say, she will believe you when you tell her 
that you gave it to me. But perchance you want to give it to some 
old sweetheart of yours here in Venice.' Messer Giannetto answered, 
f So great are the love and the trust I have for her, that there is not a 
lady in the world for whom I would exchange her, so consummately 
fair is she in every sense,' and with these words he drew from his 
finger the ring, which he gave to the doctor, and they embraced each 
other, saluting with due respect. The doctor asked Messer Giannetto 
if he would grant him a favour, and being answered in the affirmative, 
he went on to say, f I would that you tarry not here, but go straight- 
way home to your wife.' Messer Giannetto declared that the time yet 
to elapse before meeting her would be as long to him as a thousand 
years, and in this wise they took leave of one another. 

The doctor embarked and went his way, while Messer Giannetto let 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 59 

celebrate divers banquets, and gave horses and money to his companions, 
and the merrymaking went on for several days. He kept open house, 
and at last he bade farewell to the Venetians, and took Messer Ansaldo 
with him, many of his old friends accompanying them on their voyage. 
Well nigh all the gentlemen and the ladies shed tears over his departure, 
so gracious had been his carriage with everyone what time he had abode 
in Venice, and thus he departed and returned to Belmonte. It 
happened that his wife had come there some days before, having given 
out that she had been away at the baths, and had once more put on 
woman's garb. Now she prepared great feastings, and hung all the 
streets with silk, and bade divers companies of men-at-arms array 
themselves ; so when Messer Giannetto and Messer Ansaldo arrived all 
the barons and the courtiers met them, crying out, ' Long live our 
lord ! ' When they had landed the lady ran to embrace Messer 
Ansaldo, but with Messer Giannetto she seemed somewhat angered, 
albeit she held him dearer than her own self. And they made high 
festival with jousting, and sword-play, and dancing, and singing, in 
which all the barons and ladies present at the court took part. 

When Messer Giannetto perceived that his wife did not welcome him 
with that good humour which was her wont, he went into the chamber, 
and, having called her, asked her what was amiss, and offered to embrace 
her ; but she said, f I want no caresses of yours, for I am well assured that 
you have met some old sweetheart of yours at Venice.' Messer Gian- 
netto began to protest ; whereupon the lady cried, f Where is the ring I 
gave you ? ' Messer Giannetto answered, c That which I thought would 
happen has indeed come to pass, for I said you must needs think evil of 
what I did ; but I swear to you, by the faith I have in God and in your- 
self, that I gave the ring to that doctor of laws who helped me win the 
suit against the Jew.' The lady said, c And I swear to you, by the 
faith I have in God and in you, that you gave it to a woman. I am sure 
of this, and you are not ashamed to swear as you have sworn.' Messer 
Giannetto went on, f I pray that God may strike me dead if I do not 
speak the truth ; moreover, I spake as I told you to the doctor when he 
begged the ring of me.' The lady replied, c You had better abide hence- 
forth in Venice, and leave Messer Ansaldo here, while you take your 
pleasure with your wantons ; in sooth, I hear they all wept when you left 
them.' Messer Giannetto burst into tears, and, greatly troubled, cried 
out, c You swear to what is not and cannot be true ; ' whereupon the lady, 
perceiving from his tears that she had struck a knife into his heart, quickly 
ran to him and embraced him, laughing heartily the while. She showed 

60 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

him the ring, and told him everything : what he had said to the doctor of 
laws ; how she herself was that same doctor, and in what wise he had 
given her the ring. Thereupon Messer Giannetto was mightily astonished; 
and, when he saw that it was all true, he made merry thereanent. When 
he went forth from the chamber he told the story to all the barons and 
to his friends about the court, and from this adventure the love between 
this pair became greater than ever. And afterwards Messer Giannetto 
let summon that same waiting-woman who had counselled him not to 
drink the wine, and gave her in marriage to Messer Ansaldo, and they 
all lived together in joy and feasting as long as their lives lasted." 


(ftount &loooranotno, a man aooanceto in sears, in ortier to get to totfe tfie 
fcaugjter of (ftarstbalo, monces t)er tatijer to proclaim a tournament, tool) 
tf)e fcamsel as tt)e first prt3e thereof. ?£oto tje probeo t$e btetor in ttje same 
an* toon tfje iatig, 

HEN Saturnina's novel had come to an end, Frate Auretto 
began and said, "Certes, your story is one of the finest 
I ever listened to, and it may well be adjudged the prize as 
the best that has yet been told. Nevertheless, I would fain 
tell you one of my own, which perchance may please you, albeit my 
power of invention and narrative falls greatly short of yours. 

Not a great time ago there dwelt in Provence a gentleman who was 
lord of several villages, and called by name Carsivalo. He was worthy, 
and of good understanding, and held in much affection and honour by 
the other lords and barons of the country, for the reason that he was of 
old and noble lineage, being descended from the house of Balzo in 
Provence. He had one daughter, whose name was Lisetta, and she was 
the fairest and most excellent lady in the whole of Provence. Many 
lords and counts and barons sought to win her in marriage, all of whom 
were young and gallant and goodly in person ; but Carsivalo said them 
all nay, and was not minded to give his daughter to any one of them. 
It happened that there dwelt in the country a certain count, who was 
the lord of Venisi and of all its towns and villages, named Count 
Aldobrandino. He was an old man, more than seventy years of age, 
blessed with neither wife nor child, and so rich withal that his purse 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 61 

seemed to have no bottom. Now when Count Aldobrandino heard of 
the beauty of Carsivalo's daughter, he became enamoured of her, and 
desired greatly to have her to wife, but he was kept back by bashfulness 
from asking for her, because he was an old man, and because he knew that 
so many mettlesome youths had besought her without success. Never- 
theless, he was consumed with the desire to possess her, but could find 
no method of compassing his end. 

One day he let prepare an entertainment, and it happened by chance 
that Carsivalo, as his friend and loyal follower, went to the feast to pay 
his respects. The count received him with much honour, bestowing 
upon him horses and hawks and hounds, and many things beside, and 
likewise determined in friendly fashion to ask of him his daughter ; 
and one day, when they were in a room together, the count began 
with very gracious speech and said, ' My Carsivalo, I will tell you 
what I have in my mind without any prelude, for I deem that to 
you I may speak whatsoever I will. Let it be understood that there 
is one matter over which I am somewhat abashed, and one only, 
what though I have often observed that the leek, which lives under- 
ground, waxes and decays as regards its outward stalk, and always 
keeps green itself. But, be this as it may, I now declare to you that, 
with your good pleasure, I am fain to have your daughter to wife.' 
Carsivalo answered, * In good faith, my lord, I would willingly give her 
to you, but it might prove a source of great trouble to me, considering 
how many suitors have already sought her, all of them young men of 
eighteen or twenty, for all of these might become your enemies. And 
then her mother and her brothers and my other kinsfolk might be ill 
content, and perhaps the damsel herself might not approve of you, 
seeing that she has had her choice of others of fresher age.' The count 
answered, c My Carsivalo, you speak truly, but you may tell her that 
she shall be the mistress of everything I have in the world, inasmuch as 
I desire that you and I together may find a way of success.' The other 
replied, C I am well content; but let us think the matter over to-night, 
and to-morrow let us exchange our views.' And so it was settled. 

The count slept not at all that night, but he devised a most 
excellent scheme for the furtherance of his design, and, when it was 
morning, he called his guest and said, ' I have hit upon a plan which 
will supply you with a capital pretext, and at the same time do you 
honour.' Carsivalo inquired what this plan might be, and the count 
replied, f You must proclaim a tournament, and send word to all 
such as would have your daughter to wife, to come thither on a certain 

6z SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

day ; then he who may be adjudged conqueror shall win her hand. 
Leave all else to me, for I will contrive to be the winner by a method 
which will gain the approval of all men.' Carsivalo answered that he 
was satisfied, and then departed and went home ; and, when he came 
there, he called his wife and others of his friends and kinsfolk, and said, 
' It would seem now to be full time to marry Lisetta. What plan 
would you adopt, taking due account of the many suitors who have come 
here, all of whom are our friends and neighbours ? If we do not give 
her to this or that, but to the other, the rejected ones will become our foes 
because of wrath, and will say " Are we not as good as he ? " So in lieu 
of gaining friends we should make enemies. Wherefore it seems fitting 
that we should proclaim this spring a tournament, at which whosoever 
shall be the conqueror shall win our daughter and good luck with her.' 
The mother and all the rest answered that they were well satisfied with 
this suggestion, which was duly carried out. 

Carsivalo let notice of the tournament be published abroad, pro- 
claiming that anyone who might wish to have his daughter to wife 
should repair on the calends of May to a jousting match to be holden 
at the city of Marseilles, and that the conqueror therein should win his 
daughter also. When he heard this the Count Aldobrandino sent to 
the King of France, begging the services of the boldest squire of arms 
in the country. The king, bearing in mind that the count had always 
been a faithful vassal of the crown, and was even akin to him, sent to 
him a certain squire whom he had trained from childhood, Ricciardo 
by name, and a scion of the family of Mont Albano, formerly a noble 
and a valiant house. Him the king commanded to do whatsoever 
the Count Aldobrandino might require. When this youth arrived the 
count gave him honourable reception, and then told him the whole 
story, and why he had sent for him. Ricciardo said, c I received a 
command from the king to do whatsoever you might bid me ; where- 
fore give your orders, and I will carry them out in gallant fashion.' 
The count went on, c I have let prepare in Marseilles a tournament in 
which I am minded that you should be the victor. Afterwards I will 
take the field and fight with you, when you must suffer me to over- 
throw you. Then I shall be adjudged the conqueror of the jousts.' 
Ricciardo replied that he was ready to assent to this ; wherefore the 
count kept him hidden until the day of the tournament, and then he 
told him to take what arms he liked and go to Marseilles, and make 
pretence of being a knight errant with money and horses to his taste, 
and a man of valour to boot. Ricciardo bade the count leave all this 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 63 

to him, and, having gone to the stables, he beheld amongst the other 
horses a certain one which had not been ridden for several months past. 
This he mounted at once, and chose certain followers according to his 
liking, and then set out for Marseilles, where they were making mighty- 
preparations for the tournament ensuing. 

Many young gallants were assembled for the jousting, and fortunate 
was he who was able to make the most seemly and honourable 
appearance there. With the sound of trumpets and pipes, it seemed 
as if the whole world were full of music. A large space was enclosed 
with palisades to serve as the tilting-ground, with many balconies round 
about, where lords and ladies and damsels took their station to behold 
the spectacle. On the calends of May there came that gracious 
damsel, Lisetta by name, who shone amongst the others like a sun, so 
fair and seemly was her carriage in every way ; and likewise all those 
who were fain to have her to wife came to the tournament with guise 
and devices of various kinds, and dealt one another the shrewdest blows. 
Ricciardo also was there, mounted on his charger, and he made every 
jouster give way to him. The tournament lasted nearly all day, and in 
every course Ricciardo was the victor, seeing that he was better versed 
in the use of arms than any of the others, attacking with spirit, defend- 
ing himself skilfully, and turning rapidly like one accustomed to such 
sport. Wherefore men asked each other who this might be, and the 
word went round that he was an outlander who had come to the 
jousting. Thus he remained the master of the field, for all the others 
were overthrown, and left the ground, some this way and some that, 
not being able to stand against his doughty blows. 

But in a short time Count Aldobrandino entered the field fully 
armed, and sounded his challenge and fell upon Ricciardo, who returned 
his assault. After exchanging divers strokes Ricciardo, as he had agreed, 
suffered himself to be beaten down, and made no more fight, what though 
he was ill content with his part, seeing that he, too, had fallen in love 
with Lisetta ; but he was forced to observe the bidding of the king, and 
bound likewise to do what Count Aldobrandino wished. After the 
count had gained the final victory, and had ridden round the lists sword 
in hand, all his squires and barons went to meet him with great rejoicing ; 
and when he removed his helmet and disclosed his face, all present 
marvelled greatly, and the lady Lisetta especially. And in this wise 
he won to wife the daughter of Carsivalo, and took her home with 
great joy and merrymaking. After this Ricciardo returned to France, 
and when the king asked him how he had fared, he answered, ' Sacred 

64 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

Majesty, I come from a tournament at which this count of yours played 
me a very scurvy trick.' The king asked how, and Ricciardo went on 
to tell how the count had made him a go-between, and described all that 
had happened, whereat the king marvelled greatly. But Ricciardo 
said, c My lord, wonder not at what has come to pass ; wonder rather 
that I should have acted such a part, for in sooth I never before did any 
deed which caused me so great grief as this, so incomparably fair is the 
lady whom Count Aldobrandino has won by his crafty scheming.' The 
king, when he heard the story, was silent a little space, and then said, 
c Keep a good heart, Ricciardo ; for this tournament shall prove to be 
your making. Be satisfied with this.' 

Shortly afterwards it happened that Count Aldobrandino died with- 
out offspring ; whereupon Madonna Lisetta being left a widow, her father 
took her back to his house, but he gave her neither word nor caress 
according to his wont. For this cause the young lady began to marvel 
amain in her mind, and when at last she could endure no longer, she 
said to her father one day, c Father, I wonder much at your treatment 
of me, considering that I was at one time as dear to you as the eye in 
your head, and that you held me in greater love than any of your other 
children. Moreover, whenever you chanced to behold me you rejoiced 
at heart, that is, while I was a maid. But now, for some reason I know 
not, it seems that you cannot bear the sight of me.' Her father 
answered, c There is less reason for you to wonder at me, than for me 
to wonder at you ; because I always deemed you were of good under- 
standing, seeing clearly the reason and design I had in marrying you to 
your husband, to wit, that you might have children, and remain after 
his death the mistress of all his wealth. For this reason I compassed 
your marriage, and for no other.' The daughter answered, ( I did all 
that lay in my power.' Her father said, ' How was it that there was 
not in the household some cavalier or knight or varlet by whom this 
business might have been done ? ' Whereto the daughter answered, 
£ Father, trouble not yourself over this ; for I can assure you that there 
is no cavalier, or knight or varlet in the house to whom I have not 
spoken thereanent, but no one would believe me.' When the father 
heard this witty reply, he laughed and said, c I am quite satisfied, and 
I promise to give you so feat a husband that you shall be put to no 
trouble in seeking service from any other but him, and leave all to me.' 

It chanced that the whole of the estate of Count Aldobrandino de- 
volved upon the King of France, who, calling to mind the prowess and 
the knightly courtesy which Ricciardo had displayed, sent at once word 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 65 

into Provence that it was his pleasure that Carsivalo should give his 
daughter in marriage to a certain squire of his own, who ought in all 
reason to be her husband. Carsivalo forthwith understood the meaning 
of this, and sent answer that he would do whatsoever the king might 
please to command. Whereupon the king, having taken horse with a 
great following of barons, travelled into Provence, taking with him 
Ricciardo, whom he mated with Lisetta, so that she became his wife. 
Next he created Ricciardo a count, granting to him all the heritage of 
Aldobrandino ; and this match gave pleasure to all those round about, 
and especially to Ricciardo. Moreover, there was no longer any particle 
of need for the countess to go seeking the good offices of squires and 
varlets, seeing that both she and Ricciardo were young and vigorous 
and well set for sprightly diversion. Wherefore they lived many years 
together in happiness and jollity." 

When the novel was finished Saturnina said, " As it is now my turn 
to speak, I will sing you a canzonet, which I trow you will understand 
from the words thereof better than by any saying or picture of mine." 
And she sang in this wise : 

Dearer than life art thou, yet shall I find 
Grace in thy sight, thou flower of womankind ? 

When the love-kindling fire darts from thine eyes, 
And droops my heart as droops the sun-smit flower, 

And I no place can find to spend my sighs. 
Then of thy radiant glance I feel the power 
Within my heart, like to the snow-flake shower, 
Like manna sweet borne on the balmy wind. 

Dost thou forget, with what desire intense 

I ever brought thee faith and loyalty, 
Hoping to find in thee some recompense, 

And gave my heart and soul alike to thee ? 

This thou, with thy clear wisdom, sure wilt see ; 
I'll rate thee ill, unless thy words be kind. 

Well dost thou know what balm of ecstasy 

Thy voice can bring my weary soul unto. 
When thou, without reserve, shalt whisper me, 

" Sir, I will take thee for my lover true." 

Therefore forget not, lady, to renew 
The contrail which thy heart and eyes have signed. 

Such faith I have kept, and with thee still keep, 

Which every loyal heart is bound to hold. 
For now I trow my guerdon I shall reap, 

What time thy loving arms shall me enfold, 

66 SER GIOVANNI. [day iv. 

But more such pain to bear I am not bold, 
Unless thy favour be to me inclined. 

Go, little song, to her who keeps my heart, 
The queen unquestioned of my soul and fate, 

And bid my lady, on her servant's part, 
To let her kindness on her suppliant wait, 
And show some pity on his woeful state, 
For to her yoke he is, and will be aye resigned. 

When the canzonet had come to an end the lovers clasped hands, 
declaring mutually that these meetings were the great delight and solace 
of their lives, by reason of the sweet and pleasant discourse which they 
held one with the other. Then they bade farewell and departed. 

Ci)e iftfti) £>*?♦ 


O^ello an* 3fanm of Felletrt feign to oe sootjjsagers, in ottrer to cast sfjame 
upon tfje iftoman people. Cf)eg are recetbett fig ©rassus at t|)e state 
palace, ano tljeg fcig up for !)im certain pieces of moneg tofnef) tfjeg fjato 
fjiotren in fibers places. Cfieg next occlare tf)at unocr tfje totoet of tJ)e 
palace of tfje tribunes is Jjiotren a bast treasure. OTrassus causes tfje 
same to be mtneti anfc underpinned ; anti tfie soothsayers fcinole a ure 
tljere. STIjen tfjeg quit Iftome, an* tfie next morning tfje totoec falls, tottf) 
great slaughter of tfje Iftoman people. 

HEN on the fifth day the two lovers returned to their 
wonted place of meeting, Frate Auretto began and 
said, "As it is my turn to discourse, I am minded that 
we should cease telling of love, and concern ourselves 
for a little with themes dealing rather with manners and 
history. These things, indeed, are better worth narra- 
ting and more profitable ; wherefore I will tell you a story of Rome, 
which is this. 

In the city of Rome there lived formerly a very noble citizen, 
Crassus by name, who, according to the account given in Titus Livius 
his history, was the most avaricious man the world ever saw, forasmuch 
as there was nothing he would not have done or sanctioned for the sake 
of money. It happened that during a quarrel which had continued for 
many years with discord and bloodshed between the Romans and the 
people of Velletri, a place some fifteen miles distant, two men of 
Velletri resolved to set to work to bring shame and injury upon the 
Roman people. First they let assemble the council of Velletri, and 
announced how they were ready to work great loss and disgrace to the 
Romans, but they asked to have handed over to them fifty thousand 

68 SER GIOVANNI. [day v. 

florins, declaring that, should they not accomplish their task, they 
would pay back a hundred thousand ; whereupon the council of Velletri 
resolved to give these men what they demanded. The fifty thousand 
florins were given to them, with the request that they should go and let 
their deeds match their valorous promises. 

Then these two adventurers, whose names were Chello and Janni, 
took the money, and, having embarked on the sea, went to Pisa, where 
they bought four horses and clothed themselves in strange garments. 
Moreover, by letting their beards grow and staining their faces with 
herbs, they altered their seeming so greatly that no one would have 
known them. Having hired two servants and instructed them to 
answer, should anyone demand to know who their employers might be, 
that they were soothsayers from a foreign land, they went on to Rome. 
They did not draw rein till they reached the city, and they secretly buried 
in certain places outside the walls much of their money, six thousand 
florins in one place, ten in another, and twenty in another, each portion 
being enclosed in vessels of copper, made in ancient fashion. Then they 
began to show themselves about the house of Crassus. And when the 
people saw the strange garb and the seemly carriage of the two, they 
asked the servants many a time who they might be, whereupon these 
replied that their masters were soothsayers, come to Rome from a foreign 
country. When Crassus came to know that two soothsayers had arrived 
at his court, he sent for them straightway, and demanded of them whence 
they came, and what was their object in visiting Rome. They replied, 
c We are diviners from Toleto, and we can find treasure that is buried 
in the ground. Now, because we know that much money must have 
been buried at Rome by the rich men of old days, we desired to come 
hither, and also to look upon your magnificence.' Then Crassus said to 
himself, c These are indeed men who can give me to the full the thing I 
desire ;' and then he gave orders that they should be treated with great 
honour, and let them know that he would soon be fain to see some 
sample of their art. He assigned to them lodging likewise, and caused 
them ofttimes to be bidden to his table. 

It came to pass on a certain night, when they deemed the time was 
fitting, that they called upon Crassus, and, having pointed out to him a 
star, said, c We perceive, by the power of that star, that right under your 
feet is buried a great sum of money.' Crassus was mightily pleased at 
these words, and demanded to know how he might lay hands on this 
treasure ; whereupon the others answered that he had better leave the 
business to them ; all they wanted was the help of the most trusted 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 69 

servants he had, and Crassus agreed to what they proposed. They 
then took their way out of the city to the spot where they had buried 
the six thousand florins, and when they came anear thereto they bade 
retire all the servants, and began to make show to measure and to 
adjust the position of the stars with geometry and arithmetical reckoning, 
and divers acts and signs. After this had gone on for a little, they com- 
manded the servants to dig, and they in digging found the metal pot 
which held the money aforesaid. They went back forthwith to Crassus, 
and gave him the money; whereupon he was greatly astonished, and de- 
manded to know from his servants how this thing had come about, and 
the servants related to him all the methods the men had employed. Then 
Crassus said, l Certes, these be the men I am seeking,' and he let them 
come to his table, and showed them great respect. The two men spake 
little and held aloof, and when the next opportunity offered itself they 
did what they had done before, and said to Crassus, f My lord, a planet 
has just appeared, with which there is a star, which points to a spot where 
is buried a quantity of treasure ; wherefore we would fain go thither.' 
After torches had been lighted, Crassus sent with them certain of his 
servants ; and they went to the great palace, which was in ruins, and 
there they made the same signs and motions, and bade the servants dig. 
They soon came upon the ten thousand florins, and, having hurried back 
to Crassus, gave him the money. 

It seemed to Crassus that this feat was indeed a mighty one, and 
he said to himself, c These diviners will make me the richest man in the 
world ; ' and he put full faith in them. Again, when the time seemed 
ripe, they went and dealt in the same fashion with the fifteen thousand 
florins which they had deposited in another place. Crassus, when this 
last-named thing had come about, was the happiest man in the world. 
There stood upon the Capitol a tower called the tower of the tribunes, 
on the outside of which were cut in metal the names of all those who had 
ever won glory or fame, and this tower was deemed the noblest thing in 
the city. Now these soothsayers laid a scheme to bring this tower to the 
ground, and one day they said to Crassus, f My lord, we perceive that 
a vast sum of treasure lies under the tower of the tribunes.' Crassus 
answered, c Well, and can you find means to get it out ? ' They replied, 
1 You know it can be excavated by skilful artificers, and props put in 
on both sides. When this has been done we can dig out the treasure 
that is there ; then you can lay the foundations afresh.' Crassus sent 
straightway for two skilled artificers, and sought their advice in this 
business, and they gave answer that the tower could be excavated on 

7 o SER GIOVANNI. [day v. 

two sides and underpinned, and a new foundation put in afterwards. 
Then Crassus caused the excavation to be made, and the tower to be 
underpinned ; and, that the thing might be kept secret, he built around 
the tower a wooden fence secured by lock and key. When this was 
done he gave the key to the two soothsayers, who remained on the 
spot with the artificers while they secretly excavated the foundations 
and underpinned the tower. 

As soon as the excavation was finished, the two men, who had the 
key of the pit, conveyed therein, when they found opportunity, a great 
quantity of tow, which they placed around the wood used for under- 
pinning, and prepared a fire with sulphur and tinder ; but they con- 
trived that the tower should not fall before morning, in order that they 
might by that time have got some good distance from Rome. And as 
soon as they had set all in order according to their design, they kindled 
a fire, and, having fastened and sealed the entrance, they mounted two 
swift horses and returned to Velletri. 

The next day it happened that a great multitude of people were 
assembled in the Capitol, as it was market-day, and just at half-past 
nine in the morning the tower aforesaid fell to the earth, killing several 
hundred people in its ruin. Indeed, as far as Velletri the noise could 
be heard, and the cloud of dust could be seen. Thereupon the people 
of Velletri rejoiced amain, and afterwards sent letters to Rome, telling 
what they had done, and how by means of their money they had ruined 
the most stately possession in Rome. When the Romans were 
informed of this, they rushed full of rage to the palace of Crassus, and 
with one accord fell on him and slew him." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 71 


3f anm atrti (fttucolo Matt tfjemselbea to iSoetfitita for aobu* : tfje one tmuw 
ty fotmto himself tottf) notfjutfl in f)te pocket at ti)t cno of tf)e gear, anfc t^e 
ot^er oecauae f)e fjati a cro00sflramrtr totfe. Cf)e anstoet mate to tijem og 

HEN the foregoing tale was finished Saturnina began and 
said, ct I have been mightily pleased in sooth by the story 
you have told me ; wherefore I also will tell one the scene 
of which as you will see is also laid in Rome. I am sure 
you will be diverted with it, forasmuch as I perceive you are grown 
weary of the theme of love. Moreover, it is seemly now and then to 
vary the fashion of our entertainment, since one thing may please this, 
and another that person ; so I will now begin my tale. 

There lived in Rome two men who were close friends, the one 
named Janni and the other Ciucolo. They were rich and well-to-do 
in this world's goods, keeping each other company day and night, and 
holding each other dearer than brothers. Both lived in seemly fashion, 
and passed the time pleasantly, being of gentle birth and Roman knights. 
On a certain day, when they were together, one said to the other, 
c Has it happened to you as to me ? ' and the one addressed replied, 
4 What do you mean ? * The first said, ' What if I tell you that I have 
used such bad economy with my affairs that at the new year I found 
myself with nothing but debts.' His friend answered, c By faith, I have 
at home the most cross-grained woman for a wife there is in all the world ; 
in sooth, she is rather devil than woman. Do what I may to gratify 
her, I cannot make life with her possible, so malicious and ill-tempered 
is she. Night and morning there is scolding and contention, vastly 
more than I desire ; wherefore I cannot manage to keep company with 
her longer.' Then said Janni, c I propose that we should seek advice 
about our affairs— I of mine, and you of yours.' Whereupon Ciucolo 
agreed to this, and they betook themselves to a worthy gentleman 
named Boethius. 

When they came before him Janni began, { Signor, we are come to 
you for advice. As to myself, I work my farms all the year and always 
find myself in debt, notwithstanding the income I enjoy, which thing 
puzzles me greatly.' Ciucolo said, c And I have to wife the most cross- 

72 SER GIOVANNI. [day v. 

grained and spiteful woman in the world.' Then Boethius said to Janni, 
c Rise betimes in the morning,' and to Ciucolo, * Go to the bridge of 
Sant Agnolo, and God be with you ! ' The two friends were hugely 
astonished, and said one to the other, * This fellow is a stupid fool ; what 
does he mean by this speech of his ? When I tell him about my stock 
and chattels, he bids me get up early, and he tells you to go to the 
bridge of Sant Agnolo ; ' and they departed, jeering at Boethius. But 
one morning Janni did rise early, and hid himself behind the door ; and 
after a little he espied one of his servants carrying down a huge jar of 
oil, and then another with a large piece of dried meat. On account of 
what he saw he watched again and again; and this time it was the women- 
servants, and the next the serving- woman ; one took grain, and one took 
flour ; this took one thing, and that another ; wherefore he said to him- 
self, f Small wonder that I find myself penniless at the end of the year.' 
Then he called his man-servant and said to him, £ Get you gone, and let 
me see you no more in this house.' Next he sent for his women-servants 
and the waiting-maid, and said the like to them, sending away the whole 
band, and engaging new servants. He began to have a care to his 
business, and at the end of the year he found himself in funds, just the 
same as he had heretofore been lacking. 

One day he met his friend and told him what he had gained by early 
rising; whereupon Ciucolo said, 'And, certes, I was minded to make trial 
of the counsel Boethius gave me, and the other day I went to the bridge 
of Sant Agnolo, and there I waited, having seated myself. It chanced 
that a carrier with divers laden mules went by, when one of the beasts 
shied and refused to go on ; whereupon the carrier seized the mule by 
the harness in order to make it move on to the bridge, but this he could 
not do because the harder he pulled it forward the more the mule hung 
back. The carrier began to be enraged and to beat the mule, which 
hung back worse than ever ; and when he had had enough of this he 
took the stick which he used in tying his bales, and beat the mule on 
belly, back, and ribs, venting all his rage upon the beast. In a very 
short time he broke the stick over its back ; whereupon the mule became 
tradable and crossed the bridge, and the carrier made it go backwards 
and forwards several times. As soon as the fellow saw that the mule 
was freed of this untoward humour, he went about his business.' 

When Ciucolo saw how the carrier had dealt with his mule, he went 
his way, saying to himself, £ Now I know what it behoves me to do;' and 
in this mood he hurried back to his house ; and his wife, as soon as he 
entered, began to scold and to heap abuse upon him, and to ask where- 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 73 

fore he had been so long away. The husband let her go on, keeping 
perfectly quiet, while she let her rage still boil. Then he said to her, 
f Hold your peace, or you will get what you will not like.' c Hoity toity !' 
cried the wife. ' Have you plucked up courage enough to lay hands on 
me ? You would rue the day in sooth when you did that.' The husband, 
replied, 'Take care how you provoke me, or you may smart for it.' The 
woman said, f If I thought that a single hair of your body harboured such 
a thought I would send to my brothers, who would give you such a 
handling that you would not laugh again in a hurry; and again, cannot 
you see what would happen to you in consequence of what you have 
said to me ? ' The husband cried, c You are a fiend indeed ! ' and then 
he got up and beat her soundly, while she bawled out and made a great 
uproar. Then he caught up a stick and chased her round the house, 
giving it to her soundly again and again over the shoulders and arms 
and head, and when the stick was broken he took another. At last she 
began to cry mercy, whereupon he beat her harder than ever, crying out, 
* In faith, I have a great mind to kill you.' Then the wife, perceiving 
what her husband's mood was, and feeling herself bruised all over, fell on 
her knees and cried, ' Husband, husband ! give over beating me, and 
you will never find me ill-tempered again.' 

Thereupon the husband, to expel entirely the angry humour from 
her brain, made her trot round the room several times, holding over her 
the while the formidable stick. And the business came to such a happy 
issue that the wife took thought only of such things as would please her 
husband, and became the most gentle and submissive wife in the whole 
of Rome. In this fashion Ciucolo drove the ill-humour out of his wife's 
head, and whereas up to this time he had known nothing but discord and 
ill-fortune with his wife, for the future they lived in harmony and love. 
Now if any man should be tied to a cross-grained wife, let him take 
pattern from Ciucolo, as he took it from the carrier." 

The story being finished, Frate Auretto said, " The cure of Ciucolo 
worked well, and assuredly it is one of the best there is in the world for 
a man to employ who may have a scolding wife. But as it is my turn 
to sing a canzonet, I will sing it forthwith in order to acquit myself of my 

Dear Lord of love, bend thy delightsome bow, 
And let her taste the torments that I know. 

Now I beseech thee in thy mercy heal 

The wounds which she my inmost heart has dealt ; 

74 SER GIOVANNI. [day v. 

Now let her all thy power and lordship feel, 
And may she mourn the dole that Dido felt, 
That flame in which by day, by night, I melt. 
Pity, oh, pity, Lord, on me bestow ! 

O heart of marble, diamond, or stone ! 

woman who wouldst wear the serpent's mien ! 
Now goest thou deaf and shamed, with head cast down, 

For that thy cruelty thy bane hath been. 

1 would that thou the light hadst never seen, 
And that thy heart should feel my bitter woe. 

If thou the blossom of thy days let fade 

Without the pricking of love's pleasant pain, 
Nor let thy debt of favour be repaid 

To me, thy slave, whilst thou of youth art fain, 
The passing days shall bring revenge amain, 
And I shall see if thou art kind or no. 

My song, if thou be wise thy tale to tell, 

I soon shall know if I shall favour find. 
But creep into her heart, and house thee well. 

Ah me ! couldst thou but say if she be kind, 

If she to ease my sorrow be inclined, 
And solace on my longing vain bestow. 

As soon as this love-song was finished the two lovers took each other 
by the hand and gave mutual thanks. Then they bade farewell with 
gracious reverences, and each one went happily away. 

Ci)e g>tjrtl) SDap* 


i&esser &lano, a learneb doctor of part's, toent to tfje court of iftome anb took 
up fits residence in a content of monfcs as a serbant. $t cfjancco tfjat tfje 
$ope conboitett a conststorg to refute tfje subtleties of iftesser <&toban 
$tero, another ooctor of $arts, antr a noteb heretic ; thereupon Cesser 
&lano, fiabtng entered tfje chamber unber tf)e abbot's cope, toofe part in tfje 
btspute. ?$oto f)e mabe tjtmself fenoton tfjere, anb fjoto 1)e confounbeb tfje 
opposing doctor. 

HEN, on the sixth day, the two lovers returned to their 
accustomed meeting-place, Saturnina began to speak 
merrily and said, " Since I am bound to act the story- 
teller to-day, I will tell you a tale which I think will 
please you. 

Not long ago there lived in Paris two distinguished 
and worthy men, doctors of the two great faculties of the law, the one 
called Messer Alano, and the other Messer Giovan Piero ; and in sooth 
the whole of Christendom in those days did not hold two men of greater 
distinction than these. They were always on ill terms one with the 
other, but Messer Alano always prevailed in argument, seeing that he 
was the finest rhetorician in the world and had a better understanding 
than Messer Giovan Piero, who, moreover, was a heretic, and would often 
have brought confusion upon the faith had it not been for Messer 
Alano, who came to the rescue thereof and replied to all Messer Giovan 
Piero's contentions. And it came to pass in the course of time that 
Messer Alano was minded to go to Rome to see the sacred relics, and 
the Holy Father and his court; wherefore, having set out from his 
home with divers attendants and well equipped, he went to Rome. He 

76 SER GIOVANNI. [day vi. 

saw the Pope and his court, and how it was ruled, and was greatly- 
astonished at what he beheld, for he had deemed that the court of Rome 
must needs be the foundation of the faith and the prop of Christianity, 
but he found it to be most infamous and full of simony. For this 
reason he left the city, and resolved to have done with worldly life and 
to devote himself to God's service. 

When he had departed from Rome and was journeying with his 
servants, he said to them as they were passing near to San Chirico di 
Rosena, ' Go in advance and secure lodging at the inn, and leave me to 
follow at leisure.' The servants went on to San Chirico, and as soon as 
Messer Alano saw that they were out of sight he left the road and kept 
his way towards the mountains, and at the end of his day's journey 
halted for the night at a shepherd's hut. Messer Alano dismounted 
and lay there the night, and in the morning said to the shepherd, £ I 
would fain leave with you my clothes and this horse, and that you should 
give me your raiment in exchange.' The shepherd, deeming that his 
guest was jesting, said, c Messere, I have given you the best cheer I 
could ; I pray you will not make game of me.' But Messer Alano 
stripped off his clothes, and made the shepherd do the like. Then he 
handed over his horse and all he had, and, having taken the shepherd's 
flask and garments and shoes, he set forth at a venture. His servants, 
when they had waited long for his return, began to search for him in vain ; 
wherefore they believed, the roads being there somewhat unsafe, that he 
had been robbed and murdered, and, having sought him for some days, 
they departed and returned to Paris. 

Meantime, Messer Alano, having left the shepherd, reached that 
evening an abbey in Maremma, and upon his begging bread in God's 
name, the abbot asked if he was minded to tarry with the other monks. 
He replied that he was ; whereupon the abbot inquired what he could 
do. Messer Alano answered, c Signor, I shall be able to do whatsoever 
you may teach me.' It seemed to the abbot that this was a good fellow, 
so he took him in and set him to fetch wood. The new-comer bore 
himself so well that all the inmates of the monastery liked him, because 
he did willingly as he was bid. He did not cry out that shame was put 
upon him, or feign that he was aweary, but he lent a hand to whatever 
task there was to do. When the abbot saw his tradable nature he made 
him the overseer of the monastery, not knowing who he was, and 
gave him the name of Benedetto. The rule of his life was to fast en- 
tirely four days in every week ; he never undressed, but passed the 
greater part of every night in prayer. He was never wroth anent any- 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 77 

thing which might be said or done to him, but praised Christ without 
ceasing. He set his mind on serving God in this wise ; wherefore the 
abbot gave him all his goodwill and held him very dear. 

It happened that when his servants returned to Paris, and brought 
word that Messer Alano was dead, all the men of worth and worship 
raised great lamentation, deeming that they had lost the most illustrious 
teacher in all the world. But as soon as Messer Giovan Piero knew that 
Messer Alano was dead, his spirits rose mightily, and he said, * To-day 
I can do that which I have so long desired to do.' Then he set his 
affairs in order, and went to Rome ; and, having arrived there, he pro- 
posed in consistory a question greatly inimical to our faith, desiring and 
striving to bring heresies into the Church by his subtle arguments. On 
this account the Pope let summon the cardinals, who determined to send 
for all the illustrious scholars of Italy to a consistory, which the Pope 
was minded to hold in order to refute the contentions against the faith 
which Messer Giovan Piero had advanced. And then all the bishops and 
the abbots, and the other chief prelates, who had been summoned by 
decree, were cited to come into the court, and with the rest came that 
same abbot with whom Messer Alano had taken service. When the 
abbot had prepared for his journey to Rome it chanced that Messer 
Alano heard whither he was bound, whereupon he begged the abbot 
of his kindness to take him also. Then said the abbot, ' What would 
you do there, you who know not how to read ? There you will find 
assembled the most learned men in the world, who only discourse with 
one another in learned speech, so you would not understand a word of 
what was going on.' Messer Alano replied, ' Messere, at least I should 
behold the Pope, whom I have never yet seen, nor do know what 
his seeming may be.' The abbot, when he saw what Benedetto's 
desire was, said, f I will allow you to go ; but do you know how to 
manage a horse ? ' and Messer Alano replied that he did. When the 
time had come the abbot set forth and took with him Messer Alano, 
and travelled to Rome, having received notice of what this consistory 
was to do, and that everyone should attend to hear the question which 
Messer Giovan Piero was to bring forward. Messer Alano begged the 
abbot to take him to the consistory ; whereupon the abbot said, f Are you 
silly ? Do you imagine that I can take you there, where will be assembled 
the Pope and cardinals and. many men of mark ? ' Messer Alano 
answered, ' I might get in under your cope, seeing that I am very small 
and thin.' The abbot warned Messer Alano that he might get well 
buffeted by the porters and mace-bearers, but Messer Alano said he 

78 SER GIOVANNI. [day vi. 

would see to this. When the abbot arrived at the court there was a 
great crowd at the entrance, and on this account his servant slipped 
quickly under his mantle, and went in with the rest. To the abbot was 
given a seat amongst the others according to his rank, and Messer Alano 
bestowed himself between his legs under his mantle, with his eye at a 
peep-hole, and on the alert to hear the question which was to be put. 

After a short time had passed, behold Messer Giovan Piero entered 
the consistory and mounted the rostrum in the presence of the Pope 
and the cardinals and all the others, and put forward his thesis, which 
he supported by divers subtle and mischievous pleadings. Messer 
Alano knew at once who it was ; and, when he perceived that no one 
got up to answer him, or had courage enough to meet him in argument, 
he thrust his head out of the opening in the abbot's mantle, and cried 
aloud, 'Giube,' 1 whereupon the abbot raised his hand and dealt him a 
sound buffet, saying, f Keep quiet, and bad luck to you ! Would you 
bring shame upon me ? ' All those sitting near at once looked one 
at the other, saying, f Whence came that voice ? ' and Messer Alano 
after a little thrust forth his head again, and cried, ' Santtissime pater, 
audiatis me ; ' whereupon the abbot felt the blame must fall upon him, 
forasmuch as everyone looked at him, saying, c What fellow have 
you there beneath your mantle ? ' The abbot replied that it was 
a half-witted convert of his, and then they all began to abuse him, 
crying out, * Why do you bring madmen into the consistory ? ' 
And when they had brought in the mace-bearers to beat them, and 
to put them forth, Messer Alano, fearing lest he should be beaten, 
sprang out from under the abbot's mantle, and, passing through the 
bishops, went to the feet of the Pope himself. Then a great laugh 
arose from all, and the abbot came near to be driven out of the consis- 
tory because he had brought this fellow in ; and when Messer Alano 
had come to the footstool of the Pope, he begged leave to speak his 
mind upon the question in hand, which favour the Pope granted to him. 

Messer Alano went up into the rostrum and gave a version of all 
Messer Giovan Piero had said, and then he went on from point to 
point, bringing the question to an issue by valid and natural arguments, 
whereupon all the assembly began to marvel at the excellent Latin he 
spoke, and at the fine reasoning he used in dealing with the matter ; so 
that everyone declared that this must be a messenger of God who had 
come among them. The Pope, when he heard such eloquence, gave 

1 An expression used in begging leave to speak. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 79 

thanks to God, and Messer Giovan Piero, being quite confounded by his 
opponent, became as one dazed, and cried, 4 Certes, you must be the 
spirit of Messer Alano, or some evil demon.' Then Messer Alano 
replied, c I am that Alano who has at other times put you to silence ; 
you yourself are the evil demon who is striving to bring divisions into 
the Church.' Then said Messer Giovan Piero, ■ If I had thought that you 
could possibly be living I would never have come hither.' The Pope 
desired to know who this man might be, and caused the abbot to be 
summoned, and then he demanded of him how the fellow came to be with 
him. The abbot said, c Most holy father, I have always regarded him as 
one converted by me some time ago. For my part, I never suspected 
that he could even read, seeing that I never before knew so humble- 
minded a man. He has always worked hard in cutting wood, or sweeping 
the convent, or making the beds, or tending the sick, or managing the 
horses. I regarded him as a good-natured simpleton.' 

The Pope, when he heard of the holy life of Messer Alano, and 
perceived what a worthy man he was, desired to make him a cardinal, 
knowing also what his past had been, and desiring to pay him the 
highest honour. He said, c Had it not been for you, the Church of God 
would have fallen into grievous error, wherefore I desire that you abide 
here at our court.' But Messer Alano answered, f Most holy father, I 
am minded to live and die in a life of contemplation, and to have done 
with the world ; therefore I would fain go back with the abbot to the 
monastery. There I would continue the life I have begun, and wait 
ever on the service of God.' The abbot fell down at Messer Alano's 
feet, begging his pardon, forasmuch as he had not recognized him, 
and especially with regard to the box on the ear which he had given 
him. Messer Alano answered, ■ No pardon is needful in such a 
case, seeing that it is the father's duty to correct the son.' Then the 
abbot and Messer Alano took leave of the Pope and cardinals, and 
went back to the monastery. And henceforth the abbot held him in 
the highest honour, and he passed there a holy and seemly life, compil- 
ing and completing divers excellent books concerning our faith. As 
long as he lived in this world his life was so faultless that at the end 
thereof he attained the reward and the glory of the life eternal." 

8o SER GIOVANNI. [day vi. 


Cfie terriole ooom toijtd) Sfornaoo Utscontt, Bufee of Milan, torouojt upon 
Emoroflto, one of ins courtta, anfc upon a minor friar. 

S soon as Saturnina had come to the end of her novel, Frate 
Auretto began : " Of a truth your story was a marvel- 
lously fine one, and diverting and pious as well ; indeed it 
pleased me as greatly as any other I ever listened to. And 
now I will tell one to you, which, what though it be not so good as 
yours, may still, I think, give you some pleasure. 

In days past there lived in Milan a citizen named Ambrogio, who 
was the foremost personage at the court of his sovereign, Messer 
Bernabo Visconti, and the one enjoying the greatest favour and holding 
in his heart almost all the secrets of the lord aforesaid. Now this 
Ambrogio possessed a residence near to Milan which adjoined the 
property of a widow lady named Madonna Scotta, and to this house of 
his he desired to add a garden ; but he had not the land therefor. 
Wherefore he addressed the lady, begging her to sell him what land 
he required, for which he would pay its due value. But the lady 
replied that she was not minded to part with a single yard of her land, 
because it was her dowry, nor to minish or mar her estate to accom- 
modate anyone. On this account he tried to persuade her again and 
again, and let others beg and entreat her persistently on his behalf, being 
willing to give for the land more than it was worth ; but the lady, who 
had begun by saying no, refused to alter her tone. Then Ambrogio, see- 
ing how determined she was, and brooding over this affair, took of the 
lady's land as much as a bushel of corn would seed, and set up boundary 
marks, and made thereof a garden. The lady, when she saw what was 
done, began to weep and lament, and having gone to a friar minor who 
was her father confessor, and through whose counsel she ruled her 
life, she told him all that had come to pass. 

The friar was in the lady's interest, and hostile to Ambrogio, 
because in times past he had been jealous of him ; wherefore he said to 
her, in no righteous spirit, but rather hoping to work mischief, that she 
had better leave this affair in his hands. The lady replied that she would 
do whatsoever he might wish, neither less nor more, as is the way with 
women, who, as soon as they become widows, at once fall under the yoke 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 81 

of the religious orders. It happened one day the friar found out that 
Messer Bernabo, in a very ill humour, was making a progress through 
the land; whereupon he and the widow threw themselves upon his 
horse's reins, and the crafty friar cried out, c My lord duke, I know 
how you are kind and pitiful to widows and helpless children, and on 
this account I beg you be pleased to listen to what this widowed woman 
has to say.' Messer Bernabo stopped his horse, and the lady said, 
weeping the while, ' My lord, see that justice be done to me, inasmuch 
as that courtier of yours has seized a portion of my land.' The duke, 
when he beheld the sorrow of the lady, turned to one of his squires and 
said, c Remind me of this when we shall have returned home ; ' and when 
he dismounted from his horse he sent for this Ambrogio, and inquired 
of him if he had really taken any land from this lady. Ambrogio 
replied that he had. Then Messer Bernabo made all his people mount, 
and he himself got on his horse, and he took Ambrogio with him, saying, 
c I am minded to see this land.' 

When they came to the place in question the duke called Ambrogio 
and said, ' Now tell me where the bounds between your land and the 
lady's formerly stood.' Whereupon Ambrogio showed him the place, 
and said, c Signor, here it ran, and so much of land I took from her.' 
Then Messer Bernabo made them bring a spade and a mattock, and bade 
Ambrogio dig a trench where ran the boundary between the lady's land and 
his own. Ambrogio began to dig, and made a deep trench, Messer Bernabo 
standing above him the while ; and, when he had dug the same deep 
enough, the duke bade his people seize him and plant him as if he were 
a tree in the trench, with his head downwards. He forbade anyone to 
touch the wretched man, and took his way back, leaving this dead body 
planted to serve as a boundary post. This deed caused great commotion, 
and the friar was severely blamed thereanent, and the lady also, but no 
charge was laid against the friar. It came to pass in the same year that 
the general assembly of the friars minor was held in Milan, and all the 
conventual brothers came together there, and sent word to the duke, 
letting him know that the season of the assembly was drawing nigh, and 
beseeching his kind offices, for the reason that, owing to the vast num- 
bers who would be present, they would be in want of many things. 
They therefore begged his assistance, commending themselves to his 
favour by the love of God. 

As soon as Messer Bernabo had listened to the message of these 
friars he answered and said, ■ Go, in God's name, and I will inform you 
by a messenger of my own what I may be willing to do.' Whereupon 


8z SER GIOVANNI. [day vi. 

the friars went away rejoicing. A short time afterwards Messer Bernabo 
called a gentleman of the court and said, c Go to the house of the friars 
minor, and tell them from me that I will see that all their needs shall be 
provided for, especially in the matter of women ; for of these I am 
certain they will want more than they now have.' The gentleman went 
straightway to the friary, and, having assembled the brothers, spake thus : 
f The duke, Messer Bernabo, sends answer to you that he will provide 
for all your wants, and especially in the matter of women, of whom he 
is assured that you will want more than those now about you, seeing 
that you are greatly given to women, and those few will not suffice for 
your needs.' 

Then the friars looked at one another, and not one of them spake a 
word, save that one who had been the cause of Ambrogio's death, and 
he said, c {Qui de terra est, de terra loquitur? No other word was uttered, 
and they all dispersed without making further answer to the gentleman. 
He went back and told to the duke the message he had spoken. * And 
what answer did they give?' the duke inquired. The gentleman 
replied that no one had answered aught save one friar, who had said, 
{ SfyU de terra est, de terra loquitur.' Messer Bernabo caused this 
friar to be brought before him straightway ; and, without saying aught 
to him, bade them heat red-hot an iron, and thrust it in at one 
ear and out at the other, so that he might never hear more. The friar 
lived only a few days and died in great misery, whereat everyone 
rejoiced, seeing that he had been the cause of Ambrogio's death, as I have 
already set forth." 

When Auretto had finished his story the lovely Saturnina began 
a canzonet, and sang in this strain : 

Love claims your service, lady ; so be kind, 
With courteous bearing, and with gentle mind. 

If thou wouldst win renown with lovers true, 
Give thou to pride, or to disdain, no place, 

When I approach thy feet with reverence due, 
But grant me every courtesy and grace. 
So shall I show the world a joyous face, 
As thou in me desert and worth shalt find. 

Ah, ill becomes the humour pitiless, 

Her who would offer Love her faith and treasure ! 
Nurse in thy soul no drop of bitterness ; 
Be thy reward of my desert the measure. 
Thus wilt thou Love appease, and do his pleasure, 
And work his bidding with obedience blind, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 83 

How many let go by their early prime, 

And then for all their wasted seasons grieve ! 
Who plague their lovers in that golden time, 
Yet their own cruelty will not believe ! 
Seize thou thy chance, and tarry not till eve, 
Lady, whose brows with Love's own flowers are twined. 

My song, go serve thou ladies beyond praise, 

And use all others with deserved disdain. 
But, if one lets you see by wanton ways, 
That she of one more bout of love is fain, 
Keep ever at her side, and tell her plain 
That never was her heart for cruelty designed. 

The song being ended the two lovers cut short their delight and 
their conversation for that evening, and with due obeisance thanked one 
another, praising the god of love who had brought them to the enjoy- 
ment of this secret pleasure, and each departing joyful at what fate had 

Cl)e £>etoenti) 2Dap, 


Cf)e ijorriole crueltg useH tig dFtancmo ©rstno totoartiss Utsaoetta f)ts totfe 
anti titfjer fcmsfoifc, oecause of tier. Becoming enamoureti of a goutl) namrtJ 
KmaUro ; atrtr tfje totetc^eti entj of Mmtx ©tsmo. 

HEN on the seventh day the two lovers returned to the 
parlour where they were wont to meet, Frate Auretto 
said : " As it is my turn to begin to-day, I will tell you 
of a cruel deed practised by a Roman upon his wife. 

Not long ago there lived in Rome a gentleman 
named Messer Francesco Orsino da Monte Giordano, 
who had to wife a certain Donna Lisabetta, a lady fair and prudent and 
of very seemly manners. She had lived with him some time, and had 
borne him two sons. But it chanced that a youth fell in love with this 
lady, and she with him ; and, as they were not wise enough to keep 
hidden their love, Messer Francesco was told divers times of the same ; 
but he refused to believe the report, seeing that the youth was neither 
comely, nor well-born, nor rich, and also because he had shown himself 
a friend and follower of the house. At last the steward saw it with his 
own eyes, and informed Messer Francesco, who said to him, f Go and 
place yourself where you can espy him as he comes in, and then let me 
know, for I wish to see for myself; otherwise I shall never believe,' 
which thing the steward promised to do. 

One day Messer Francesco made pretence to go to a country house 
of his, and took horse with several companions, but at nightfall he 
returned to Rome and lay hid till the steward came and fetched him. 
Then Messer Francesco beheld the youth wantoning with his wife in the 
bedchamber, and saying, what time he kissed it, f Whose little mouth is 
this ? ' and the lady replied, ' It is thine.' ' And these roguish eyes ? ' 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 85 

c They are thine.' f And these cheeks?' f They are thine.' c And 
this lovely throat?' * It is thine.' 'And this fair bosom?' 'It is 
thine.' And thus, as he touched all the parts of her, she answered that 
they were his, except her hinder part, which she gave to her husband. 
And over this jest they raised a great laugh. When Messer Francesco 
saw and heard what they were doing and saying, he spake to himself, 
c Praised be God that some part of her is allowed to me ! ' and, as soon 
as he had seen all and more than enough, he went away stealthily back 
to his country house, where he remained as long as it pleased him. 
When he returned home he caused to be fashioned for his wife a dress 
of coarse cloth, but with the hinder part thereof made of samite trimmed 
with ermine, and likewise let prepare at his country house a very rich 
banquet, to which he invited the youth aforesaid and his two brothers, and 
divers of his kinsmen and associates. Having settled to give the feast 
on a certain Sunday morning, Messer Francesco made his wife put on 
the dress he had prepared, and took her through the streets of Rome. 
Then he directed her to repair to his country house, and join his guests 
at table, which thing she did in due course. When they were all 
assembled at the banquet, Messer Francesco placed his wife beside the 
youth, who was called Rinaldo, and then ranged in order all their kins- 
folk and friends, setting before them a fair and sumptuous banquet. 

When the guests beheld in what manner the lady was attired, they 
were astonished, and especially those who were akin to her and to 
Rinaldo, and said to themselves, ' Surely there is some great matter in 
hand,' while Rinaldo was mightily afeared. Then, when they had finished 
their repast, Messer Francesco said, f Now I will set before you some 
fruit;' and, having risen, he first gave to every one of them at the table 
a stick, and then withdrew into a room where he had in readiness eight 
of his servants — the same as the number of the guests — also armed with 
sticks. He made these surround the table, and then said to those who 
sat thereat, f Defend yourselves;' and, having turned to his servants 
who stood there sticks in hand, he cried, c Now bring out the fruit.' 
Whereupon the servants, as they had been commanded, overthrew the 
table and began to belabour with their sticks the guests who had been 
sitting there. With each party laying about a sharp fray arose, for- 
asmuch as those at the table, finding themselves beaten with a will, were 
minded to give a proper return to their assailants. In short, the servants 
were so far superior in strength that they beat down all the guests, and 
laid them dead on the floor of the room. Then Messer Francesco made 
them take the corpse of the young man Rinaldo and fasten it with arms 

86 SER GIOVANNI. [day vii. 

outspread on a crucifix, and convey it to a room in his house, while all 
the other bodies were taken back to their several homes. This deed 
caused great complaint in Rome, on account of the death of so many 
worthy citizens, but no man dare open his mouth thereanent because 
the worker of the deed was a man of power in the city. Every night 
Messer Francesco took his wife and bound her to the corpse of Rinaldo, 
and made her remain all night in his embraces, and rise therefrom at 
daybreak. Every day he gave her nought else but two slices of bread 
and a beaker of water, so that her life might be all the more wretched. 
And in this wise she lived several days, sending constantly to beg mercy 
of Messer Francesco, but he was deaf to her prayers. 

Then she, perceiving that she was to die, and that there was no 
remedy, prayed that she might see her children before her death ; where- 
upon they brought her two sons to her. She took them in her arms, 
and weeping plentifully spake to them these words : ' Dearest sons of 
mine, I leave you with God's blessing and my own. You are indeed 
the sons of Messer Francesco, born in lawful wedlock, but the enmity 
of one of my servants has brought me to this pass. And albeit this 
excuse of mine be not a valid one, nevertheless I leave to God and 
to you, as my sons, the duty of avenging the fate of your wretched and 
unfortunate mother.' And she could not kiss them enough, for the 
anxiety that possessed her. Then, after blessing them, she gave them 
up to their nurse with these words : f Take these children whom I leave 
you, and, by God's faith and by your own soul, see that, when they shall 
be grown up, you recall my death to their memory, and especially to 
this the younger one,' and this little boy in sooth wept grievously and 
would not let himself be taken from her neck. When she had delivered 
them over, and assured them that they were lawfully born and not 
bastards, she commended her soul to God, and spake no more in this 
life, but died after the lapse of a few days. 

They took her body and her lover's and bore them away, and the 
cruel deed was praised by some and blamed by others ; and it came to 
pass that the nurse, when the time was ripe, told the children the story 
of their mother's death ; and the consequence of this revelation was that 
Messer Francesco lost his wits, and for a long time went wandering 
distraught about the world, being in the most bitter enmity with his 
sons, and especially with the younger. Messer Francesco abode in the 
woods, sleeping there as if he had been a savage, working all the crazy 
antics which madmen are wont to practise. And thus they say the 
lady's fate was avenged." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 87 


Mmtx ©aleotto ifitalatesta fct&nmmo causes <&ostan3a t)ts ntm to It slain 
fiatoatouslg, as toell as ©rmantto, a (German soioter. tof)o teas toont pttbtlg 
to btstt fjw. 

S soon as Auretto had finished his story Saturnina said, " The 
deed you have described was certes a very cruel one, and I 
will now tell you of another which was wrought in Romagna 
no long time ago." And she began as follows : 
tc There lived in Romagna, in the town of Arimino, a very worthy 
gentleman and baron, who was named Messer Galeotto Malatesta, who 
was the most excellent cavalier Romagna had produced for a very long 
time, and the wisest and the most prudent to boot, always passing his days 
in splendid and noble fashion, and maintaining the dignity of his state. 
This Messer Galeotto had a certain niece, a lady named Madonna 
Gostanza, who was a widow and the daughter of Messer Malatesta 
Unghero de' Malatesti, himself a valorous and skilful knight. This 
Madonna Gostanza kept in Arimino a very sumptuous court of ladies 
and damsels and squires, leading the life of a noble lady, as in sooth she 
was. Out of devotion to Messer Galeotto the highest honour was paid 
to her, and she held the estates which her father and her husband had 
left. Indeed, there was not in all Romagna, nor in Tuscany, nor in the 
March, another like her, possessed of such splendid jewels, or so rich a 
lady as she was. In brief, she enjoyed all the delights that one in her 
case could rightly use, and many gifts of nature as well, forasmuch as she 
was young, fair, well-mannered, rich, and highly born. She was to all 
seeming prudent in her carriage, enjoying the esteem of all those who 
knew her, and, by marrying her well, her uncle hoped to make a rich 
and noble alliance. 

Messer Galeotto had in his pay a certain soldier called Ormanno, who 
was the leader of fifty lances, a native of the upper parts of Germany, 
and sprung from a town called Cham. He had had several brothers and 
brothers' sons, all knights and gentlemen of ancient lineage, and for this 
reason he, too, sold his services. He was courteous and well-mannered 
and strong in his person, wherefore Messer Galeotto held him in high 
esteem. It happened that Ormanno passed divers times by the palace 
of Madonna Gostanza while she was at the window, and, their eyes 

88 SER GIOVANNI. [day vn. 

having met, Ormanno became hotly enamoured of her, and he set to 
work to show himself in such wise that the lady's eyes fell upon him 
favourably, so that she began to love him. The love between them 
grew so great that they began to exchange rich gifts, those of the 
lady to her lover being especially sumptuous. They often had speech 
together, and a plan was laid that Ormanno should gain the reward 
which love demands above all others. But they knew not how to keep 
hidden the flame of their ardent passion, nor to use prudent carriage in 
what they did, seeing that love is blind, and the foes thereof are 
subtle. And because Ormanno was known to frequent the lady's palace 
at unseemly hours, divers reports of his conduct came to Messer 
Galeotto, but he would not believe them. 

At a certain time it came to pass that the College of Cardinals 
at Rome under divine direction elected Urban VI. as pope, Pope 
Gregory XI. being dead. The College of Cardinals, Italian and Ultra- 
montane as well, made known this fact to all the sovereigns and com- 
munes of Christendom, how they had elected Pope Urban VI. ; where- 
fore Messer Galeotto, as a son and servant of the Holy Church, was 
minded to go and visit the new pontiff; but, before he set forth, he 
sent for Ormanno and thus addressed him : c It is true I hear that you 
frequent the house of my niece Gostanza, but this I do not believe. 
However, be that as it may, I beg you so to bear yourself that no such 
rumours may come to my ears in the future.' Ormanno replied, c My lord, 
you will find there is no truth in this. He who told you thereof is one 
evilly disposed towards me, one who seeks to bring me into ill-favour. 
For my part, I am ready to make good my words upon his own person,' 
and he went on to excuse himself over this report. Messer Galeotto 
answered him, c Ormanno, you are prudent and have understood my 
words. I will say no more, but will leave in your charge Arimino and 
all I possess. You shall be the commander of my men-at-arms until 
such time as I return from Rome ; wherefore see that you do nought 
which shall deserve my blame when I come back.' Ormanno replied 
that he would observe his charge, and Messer Galeotto departed for 
Rome, leaving everything under Ormanno's guard, as it has been said. 
But Ormanno showed no discretion in the pursuit of his passion, and 
went constantly to the lady's house, holding his lord in no respect or 
reverence, but following rather the promptings of his unbridled lust, of 
which he was the slave ; and the lady gave him a certain silver girdle. 

Now when Messer Galeotto came back, word was brought to him 
how Ormanno had never ceased to frequent the house of Madonna 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANN]. 89 

Gostanza, and how this thing was well known to a great number of the 
ladies and gentlemen of Arimino. Messer Galeotto considered well this 
report, and secretly set a watch to see whether it might be true ; and 
when Ormanno, who was ignorant of the watch kept upon him, was seen 
to enter the lady's house by night, the news was forthwith conveyed 
to Messer Galeotto, who at once caused the house to be surrounded by 
certain soldiers whom he kept on guard. He charged them by their lives 
not to allow Ormanno to quit the house ; and this command they duly 
obeyed. Then he let summon divers of the citizens, and took counsel 
with them as to the affair, and one advised this course, and the other 
that. When it drew near to daybreak, and Ormanno was minded to 
quit the lady's house, he looked and beheld the soldiers who were posted 
round the same, and, turning to the lady, told her what had happened. 
Thereupon she arose, and, having gone to the window, spake thus : 
c What is the meaning of this, and why are these guards set round my 
house? Are you not ashamed thus to post your soldiers about my 
doors? ' And in sooth these words of hers were the cause of her death ; 
for, had she not shown herself at the window, she would not then have 
perished, for Messer Galeotto had already privily determined to save 
Madonna Gostanza's honour by laying the fault on one of her waiting- 
women. But when it was told to him how she had appeared at the 
window, and had spoken these words, he conferred with a certain well- 
advised and valiant gentleman, and, this done, he called an officer of his 
foot-soldiers and said to him, * Go to the house of my niece, where you 
will find her and Ormanno, and straightway hew them in pieces for me.' 
The officer, who was called Santolino da Faenza, replied, c My lord, I 
will readily do your bidding with regard to him, but not with regard to 
her ; and in sooth you must excuse me this task, forasmuch as I will 
never stain my hand with the blood of the Malatestas.' Then said Messer 
Galeotto, ' Go, then, and kill him.' Whereupon the officer departed 
straightway on his task. 

Messer Galeotto then called another officer and said to him, c Go 
and hew in pieces my niece Gostanza,' and the officer answered that the 
deed should be done forthwith, and went to the palace of Madonna 
Gostanza. When Santolino came to the door of the chamber he 
knocked, and Madonna Gostanza asked what was his errand. Then 
said he, c Open to me, madonna, for I have a message to deliver on the 
part of my master.' Then, when the lady had opened the door, Santolino 
asked her where was Ormanno, but she answered, c What Ormanno ? ' 
Santolino said, ( To be brief, madonna, my master knows that he is here, 


9 o SER GIOVANNI. [day vii. 

and has sent me to him with a message ; wherefore let us despatch this 
business, lest a worse thing ensue.' The lady said, f You know well 
that men are not wont to come here.' But Santolino told her that, 
if she did not at once point out where Ormanno was, it would fare 
ill with her. The lady, hearing him speak in this strain, told him 
where Ormanno was ; whereupon Santolino went and called out, 
c Ormanno, I have a message for you on the part of our master,' and 
Ormanno replied, c Say what you will;' but Santolino went on, 'Let 
us go into some private place, for I do not wish to be overheard,' and 
when they had gone into a little room Santolino said, ( Ormanno, you 
must die ; this is your irrevocable doom.' Ormanno fell down in a swoon, 
but, having come to himself, he said, { Is there for me no escape from 
death ? ' and Santolino replied that there was none, inasmuch as this 
matter had been settled for good and all. Then Ormanno fell on his 
knees at Santolino's feet, and, lifting his hands to heaven, he bowed to 
the ground and licked the dust. Then he put his hands before his eyes 
that he might not look upon death, and bent his head, and Santolino 
drew his sword, and in a moment Ormanno lay dead at his feet. 

Now when that other officer, who had been sent to deal out a 
similar fate to the lady, had come into her chamber, he said, f Madonna, 
I have a message for you on the part of my master,' and she, all dazed, 
bade him say what he would ; whereupon he replied, ( Send away all these 
maids of yours.' When the lady had dismissed them, he went to the 
door, and, having bolted it, he laid his hand upon his sword and cried, 
f Madonna, you must die.' The lady set up a terrible crying, and 
would fain have fled, but he said, f Madonna, do not fly ; that will 
profit you nought ; for our master has determined that you must die, 
and none but God himself can save you.' The lady cried out, { But 
is Messer Galeotto fain to murder his own flesh and blood ? ' The 
officer bade her make haste, and the lady asked him how he dared 
think of shedding the blood of Messer Malatesta Unghero her father ; 
but he replied that he must needs do the deed which he had been 
commanded to do, and that she ought to pardon him, seeing that 
he put his hand unwillingly to the same. She cried, f But is there 
no remedy ? ' and he answered that there was none. Then she knelt 
before the altarpiece of Our Lady and spake thus : ' If my brave and 
high-souled father were now alive I should not die in this base and 
shameful fashion ; wherefore I commend to thy keeping, O sweetest 
Virgin Mary, this life and soul of mine, and the life and soul likewise of 
that worthy gentleman who, for my sake, is fated to undergo torture 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 91 

and death like mine. And I further beseech thee, Mother of mercy, to 
make me brave and constant to meet death, so that, having suffered the 
same patiently, my soul like that of a martyr may enter into the glory 
of your most sacred son, Jesus Christ. For I certes have found in this 
world little to content me with my lot.' 

Then she turned towards the officer, who was holding his sword 
aloft, and said, ' Since my vanity has brought me into this case, I beg 
you not to hurry overmuch, but show me a little mercy, so that I may 
pray to the Virgin Mary ten times;' and he, pitying her, consented, saying, 
* Say your prayers, but be brief.' Then, as she did reverence to the 
Virgin Mary with many tears, she glanced in terror at the handle of 
the sword. Now when she had been praying a little time, he inquired 
whether she had finished her devotions, and she answered no. Then 
the officer cried out, £ No ! In sooth, I could have said twenty prayers in 
this time.' The lady went on, * Ah, wretched Gostanza ! to what strait 
art thou come ? Oh, blind Love, why hast thou deceived me, and why am 
I sent hence with my name thus defiled ? Would that I had died ere I 
was born ! ' The officer deemed that she delayed overmuch ; therefore 
he bade her recite the Ave Maria, which she did thrice in very devout 
fashion. Then he lifted up his sword and smote her, and thus she 
died, and fell a corpse at his feet. Messer Galeotto made his servants 
put the two wretched bodies into one sack, and cast the same into the 
sea. Then he made a proclamation that all those who had any claims 
upon this Ormanno should come to him for satisfaction, and he paid all 
those to whom payment was due, and thus he dissolved the troop of 
Ormanno, and dismissed it. For this deed of his Messer Galeotto was 
commended by some and blamed by others." 

As soon as the story was finished Auretto began a canzonet, 
dealing somewhat with the subjecl: of the novel, after the following 
fashion : 

Let none serve Love unguardedly, unless 
He fain would end his days in wretchedness. 

We scan the heroes great of old renown, 
Sir Tristan, good Achilles, stout and strong, 

Who for love's sake the gift of life laid down ; 

Love's pleasures mixed their heartfelt pains among, 
And other names illustrious in a throng, 
Who sank their fame in guilty love's excess. 

And weakest he who knows Love's craft the best, 
For all at last will fall into his snare. 

92 SER GIOVANNI. [day vii. 

Reft of his wings was Virgil love-possessed, 
And other famous singers, skilled and rare, 
Found scant proteftion in their thought and care, 
And fell the victims of his artfulness. 

Let all who in love's service take their part, 

Be warned by Gostanza's woeful fate. 
Let not thy darling leman snare thy heart, 

By wanton geste or glance importunate. 

Thus hope is wrecked, and counsel comes too late, 
For those who fail in care and watchfulness. 

To lovers true, my song, now take thy wing, 

And bid them tread in sober honest ways, 
And charge them when they feel the rapturous sting 

Of love, and fain would wander in his maze, 

That they be prudent, and be sure always 
Keep rein in hand, and headlong speed repress. 1 

When the song was finished the two lovers brought for that day 
their gentle discourse to a close ; and, having taken each other by the 
hand and greeted with merry words and with courteous reverence, they 
saluted and said farewell, each one departing gladsome and content. 

1 This canzonet is a good example of Dante's influence upon the writer. 

" e vidi V grande Achille, 
Che per amore al fine combatteo. 
Vidi Paris, Tristano. E piu di mille 
Ombre mostrommi, e nominolle a dito, 
Ch ' Amor di nostra vita dipartille." 

Inferno, v. 

Ct)e <£tgi)tt) SDap* 


I&oto ti)e patties of t^e €fueifs an* ©ff)ioelltnes arose, antu fjoto tf)e accutseo 
seeto of strife teas first soton anto oegan to spring in $talg. 

HEN on the eighth day the lovers sought their accus- 
tomed meeting-place, Saturnina began and said : ce As 
it is my turn to-day, I am minded that we enter into 
consideration of a moral and lofty theme ; therefore I 
will relate to you how the Guelf and Ghibelline 
parties first arose, and how this accursed seed of dis- 
cord came into our land and grew up." And thus she began : 

" In Germany at one time there lived two gentlemen who held one 
another in the dearest friendship. They were nobly born, and possessed 
of great wealth, and dwelt within a mile's distance of each other, the 
one being named Guelf, and the other Ghibelline. On a certain day 
it came to pass that, as they were coming back from the chase, a quarrel 
arose between them on account of a certain bitch ; and, as they had up 
to this time been friends and close companions, so they now became 
bitter foes, and used every occasion they could find to work ill one to 
another. So great did the discord between them wax that they both of 
them sent out invitations to their several friends, and gathered together 
large companies of the same, in order that they might wage war 
together. So widely did this scandal spread, that in the course of 
time it came about that all the nobles and barons of Germany were 
divided into opposing factions on this account ; for the reason that some 
of them would hold to the side of the Guelfs and others to that of the 
Ghibellines ; wherefore it happened every year that many men on the 
one side or the other lost their lives. 

94 SER GIOVANNI. [day viii. 

Now at a certain time the Ghibelline chief found himself fiercely- 
attacked by the Guelf, and, himseeming that his adversary was far more 
potent than himself, he appealed to the Emperor Frederic I., who was then 
ruling, for his protection. On account of this, Guelf, seeing that Ghibelline 
had placed himself under the Emperor Frederic's protection, straight- 
way sent letters to the Pope Honorius II., who was at that time at enmity 
with the emperor, entreating his good offices against his foe, and letting 
him know how the matter stood. Thus the pope, when he understood 
how the emperor had taken up the cause of Ghibelline, at once ranged 
himself on the side of Guelf. And from this cause it happens that the 
holy see is Guelf, and the empire Ghibelline, and thus the origin of the 
Guelf and Ghibelline factions is to be found in this accursed bitch. 

It was in the year of Christ mccxv that the seed of dissension afore- 
mentioned was first sown in Italy in this wise. At this time it chanced 
that the Podesta of Florence was a certain Messer Guido Orlandi (and 
in sooth the office of Podesta of Florence is a great and noble one). 
Amongst the members of the house of the Buondelmonti there was a 
gentleman who was called by name Messer Buondelmonte, and he was 
of a most seemly presence, wealthy, and of great valour. Now this said 
Messer Buondelmonte had sworn troth with a maiden of the family of 
the Amidei to make her his wife, and had joined hands with her, and 
had confirmed his promises with all those solemnities which rightly 
belong to such occasions. One day, when Messer Buondelmonte was 
passing by the house of the Donati, a certain lady, who was called by 
name Madonna Lapacia, saw him and called out to him, and said, 
f Messere Buondelmonte, I am indeed greatly astonished that you should 
so far disgrace yourself by choosing for your wife one who is not fit to 
take off your shoes. Now I have been keeping a daughter of mine for 
you, and I am fain that you should come and see her.' Thereupon she 
called for her daughter, whose name was Ciulla, a maiden as graceful 
and fair as any one in Florence, and let Messer Buondelmonte look upon 
her, and said, c This is she whom I have been keeping for you.' Where- 
upon Messer Buondelmonte, after he had gazed upon the maiden's 
beauty, became enamoured of her, and said, c Madonna, I am quite pre- 
pared to do whatsoever you may desire ; ' and, before he went his way 
from thence, he had taken the maiden as his wife, and had given her the 
ring in token of the deed. Now when it became known to the Amidei 
that Messer Buondelmonte had taken to wife another woman, and would 
have nought to do with the maiden of their house, they all gathered 
together and took counsel with all their other kinsfolk, and with their 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 95 

friends as well, to devise some plan whereby they might wreak their 
vengeance upon Messer Buondelmonte for the ill deed that he had done. 

To this council came Lambertuccio Amidei and Schiatta Ruberti and 
Mosca Lamberti, and divers others besides. The advice of one was that 
they should give him a sound beating, of another that someone should 
wound him in the face, and this man counselled one thing, and that man 
another. At last Mosca Lamberti stood up and said, c A thing well done 
is done for good ; ' meaning by this to let them understand that a dead 
man would never again go to the wars. On this account it was deter- 
mined that Messer Buondelmonte should be slain, and this counsel they 
put into execution. When Messer Buondelmonte was returning on 
Easter morning from breakfasting at the house of the Bardi, which lay 
on the other side of the Arno, he was mounted upon a white horse 
without spot, and wore himself a white cloak. When he came to the 
foot of the Ponte Vecchio, where there stood the statue of Mars which 
the Florentines were wont to worship what time they were pagans, and 
where at this time is the fish-market, a troop of assailants sprang upon 
him from behind, and seized him and dragged him from his horse to 
the ground, and there they put an end to his life. 1 

The whole of Florence at once was filled with uproar on account of 
Messer Buondelmonte's death, and by reason of this homicide there 
arose a division amongst all the noble families and houses of Florence. 
Those who took the side of the Buondelmonti made themselves the 
heads of the Guelf party in the city, and those who favoured the cause 
of the Amidei became the leaders of the Ghibellines. The names of 
those who held to the Guelfs were as follows : the Buondelmonti, the 
Nerli, the Jacopi, the Dati, the Rossi, the Bardi, the Frescobaldi, the 
Mozzi, the Pulci, the Gherardini, the Foraboschi, the Bagnesi, the 
Guidalotti, the Sacchetti, the Manieri, the Da Quona, the Luccardesi, the 
Chiaramontieri, the Cavalcanti, the Compiombesi, the Giandonati, the 
Scali, the Gianfigliazzi, the Importuni, the Bosticchi, the Tornaquinci, 
the Vecchietti, the Tosinghi, the Arigucci, the Agli, the Adimari, the 

1 " O Buondelmonte, quanto mal fuggisti 
Le nczze sue per gli altrui conforti! 
Molti sarebber lieti che son tristi, 
Se Dio t'avesse conceduto ad Etna 
La prima volta ch'a citta venisti. 
Ma conven'iasi a quella pietra scema 
Che guar da 'I ponte, che Fiorenza fesse 
Vittima nella sua pace postrema." 

Dante, Paradiso, xvi. 

96 SER GIOVANNI. [day viii. 

Bisdomini, the Tedaldi, the Cerchi, the Donati, the Arighi, and those 
of the Delia Bella family. All these noble families, together with 
certain of the townsfolk, joined themselves to the Guelf party on account 
of the death of Messer Buondelmonte. And those who became of the 
Ghibelline faction were as follows : the Uberti, the Amidei (and the 
chief of them were the Counts of Gangalandi), Ubriachi, Manelli, Fifanti, 
Infangati, Malespini, and those of the house of Volognana ; the Scolari, 
the Guidi, the Galli, the Capiardi, the Lamberti, the Soldanieri, the 
Cipriani, the Toschi, the Amieri, the Palermini, the Migliorelli, the 
Pigli — what though some of the last-named subsequently became Guelfs 
— the Barucci, the Catani, and the Catani of Castiglione, the Agolanti, 
the Brunelleschi — who also became Guelfs afterwards — the Caponsacchi, 
the Elisei, the Abati, the Tedaldini, the Giuochi, and the Galigai. All 
these became Ghibellines on account of the death of Messer Buondel- 
monte, and from this one quarrel arose the factions which parted and 
divided all the nobles and the people of Italy, and sowed thus widely 
this evil seed. And all the Guelfs took the part of the Holy See, while 
the Ghibellines held to the emperor. So now you have heard how in 
Germany the strife between the Guelfs and Ghibellines began on account 
of a bitch, and later on in Italy on account of a woman, as I have set 
forth in the foregoing story." 


i^oto tfje mlrti (BrfnMlmes of ^Florence retutnrti tf)ttf)et, antr orobe out tf)e 
<£uelf0, antr tottf) toijat suotletg tijeg to^mt o tfje people of ^Florence. 

HEN Frate Auretto perceived that Saturnina's novel had 
come to an end, he said, " Forasmuch as you have begun 
to deal with themes of this character, I will tell you in what 
manner the Ghibellines, having been banished Florence, 
returned to the city and chased out the Guelfs, and how they put 
a crafty cheat upon the Florentines. For some long time after the 
Ghibellines had been driven away from Florence they abode in Siena and 
harried the Florentine territory, having been reinforced by eight hundred 
Germans of the army of King Manfred, all stout men-at-arms. It 
came to pass that Messer Farinata degli Uberti and Messer Gherardo 
Lamberti, the chiefs of the exiled Ghibellines, took counsel together how 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 97 

they might dupe the commune of Florence, and, being cautious men 
and well versed in stratagem, they called for two lusty friars of the 
order of St. Francis, and thus addressed them : c We desire that you 
go to Florence to the chiefs of the government, and tell them, on behalf 
of seven of the chief citizens of Siena, that if they are willing to send 
ten thousand florins, Siena will be given over to them.' The friars 
replied that they were willing to go, but first they desired to see the 
seven citizens aforesaid. This done, they would set forth. Messer 
Farinata and Messer Gherardo agreed to this, and they likewise made 
known to the seven Sienese citizens what it was they were minded to do ; 
and, having come to a secret agreement with them, they again sought 
the friars, and told them how these seven citizens aforesaid were ill-con- 
tent with the government of Messer Provenzano Salvani, who then 
ruled Siena, and would liefer live under the sway of Florence. Then 
the two friars took the letters of introduction, under the seals of the 
citizens aforesaid, and went to Florence ; where, having enlisted the 
favour of the priors, they thus began to speak : ' Signors, we are come 
hither for the sake of the honour and glory and increase of this com- 
monwealth, and we have certain private matters to reveal.' 

On account of the mission of the friars the sign or y chose two citizens 
to hear their story and confer with them, Messer Giovanni Calcani and 
the deputy of the Porta San Piero. 1 These, after conferring with the 
friars, understood that certain citizens had authorized these men to give 
up Siena to Florence ; whereupon the friars went on to suggest that the 
commune of Florence should equip a large body of men and make 
pretence of relieving Montalcino, and come to a halt at the river Arbia, 
about four miles from Siena, and remain there until these citizens should 
give into their hands the gate leading to Arezzo, called the Porta Santa 
Vieni ; but first of all the commune must deposit with them ten 
thousand florins. The friars showed them the sealed letters and the 
authority which they bore ; wherewith the two citizens aforesaid were 
fully satisfied, and forthwith gave in deposit the ten thousand florins. 
They next let assemble the council, which contained divers noble citizens 
who were skilled captains in war, and they put before the same a petition 
that, for the welfare and honour of the state, they would be pleased 
to throw supplies into Montalcino. Whereupon the Count Guido 
Guerra rose and affirmed that it was in no way expedient to do this, 
forasmuch as he himself had witnessed the ill-starred attempt made 

1 Orig., " lo Spedito di porta San Piero." Villani (viii. 2) writes of him as " huomo 
di grande opera et ardire, et era il detto Spedito de' principali guidatori del popolo" 


9 8 SER GIOVANNI. [day viii. 

earlier in the year by the Florentines against Santa Petronella ; then they 
must consider the fresh troop of Germans which King Manfred had 
sent to aid the Ghibellines, and he concluded by saying that the people 
of Orvieto could relieve Montalcino with little cost. So that, weighing 
each argument, he must oppose the despatch of the expedition. Next 
rose Messer Teghiaio Aldobrandi, who also demurred to the proposition, 
adducing many reasons for his opinion ; but to him the deputy of the 
Porta San Piero, a man full of conceit, made answer and said, that if 
Messer Teghiaio were afeared he had better look in his breeches. 
Messer Teghiaio replied, f You will never dare to follow me into the 
battle.' When he sat down Messer Cece Gherardini rose and began to 
give counsel similar to Count Guido's; whereupon thesignory bade him 
hold his peace under a penalty of a hundred lire — a fine which he at 
once offered to pay as the price of free speech. Then they charged him 
to keep silent or pay two hundred, and again he was ready to pay the 
money. They raised the fine to three hundred, and got the same 
answer ; whereupon they commanded him to cease speaking under pain 
of losing his head, and this reduced him to silence. In such fashion it 
was settled by the people of Florence that the enterprise should be 
undertaken forthwith. 

Thereupon they called out the people of Lucca, who lived under 
their free commune, of Bologna, Pistoia, Prato, San Miniato, Colle, and 
San Gimignano ; and, besides these, the greater part of the populace and 
of the noble families of Florence, horse and foot, went forth to battle, 
taking with them with great ceremony the Carroccio, and the bell which 
they called Martinella, mounted upon a chariot and on a wooden tower. 
So they marched until they came into the territories of Siena by the river 
Arbia, at a place known as Monte Aperti. There they found the forces 
of Orvieto and Perugia who had come to support those of Florence, and 
there were three thousand knights as well as three thousand men-at-arms 
and three thousand foot-soldiers in the field. Now it happened that the 
aforesaid chiefs of the conspiracy, Messer Farinata and Messer Gherardo, 
had in the meantime despatched to Florence certain other friars, who 
entered into relations with some of the Ghibellines of the city to help 
forward the affair, and these two friars betook themselves to the camp 
with the other Florentines on the hill of Monte Aperti, waiting until 
the traitors should deliver over the gate which had been promised. Then 
a Ghibelline of Florence, named Razante, having heard that a Ghibelline 
plot was being hatched in Siena, betook himself thither, with the assent 
of the other Ghibellines who were in the camp, to tell the exiled 

'.■■■' ■ ■ ' 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 99 

Florentines in Siena in what fashion their plot was being carried out. 
When he had come there he spake in this wise to Messer Farinata and 
Messer Gherardo, who answered saying, l If you let this story of yours be 
known in Siena it will be the ruin of us ; forasmuch as the Sienese, if they 
should hear thereof, would be afeared, and would not fight ; and it will 
be better for us to fight now that we have these eight hundred Germans, 
and to stake all on this venture rather than to go on ranging the world 
as beggars. For this reason we beg you to let circulate a story exadlly 
opposite to this one of yours, which thing you will know how to do/ 
Razante, having heard their speech, said, ' Leave the affair in my hands.' 
Razante put upon his head a wreath of olive, and, having gone 
into the parliament where all the Sienese were met together, said, f I 
come from the Florentine camp, on behalf of all the Ghibellines who are 
there, to tell you that the army is ill led and full of discord ; wherefore, 
smite boldly, and you will gain the day.' Straightway a great commotion 
arose in the city, and all men took up arms, and they sent to the front 
the eight hundred Germans, the people and the cavaliers following crying 
out, f To death, to death ! ' And when the Florentine host perceived this 
army moving so suddenly against them with the intention of giving 
battle, they said, c We are betrayed,' and attempted to form battle array ; 
but divers Ghibellines who were in the camp fled and joined the Sienese. 
And when the Germans had come where the great mass of the Florentine 
forces were, Messer Bocca degli Uberti fell upon Messer Jacopo dei 
Pazzi, who bore in his hand the standard, and cut off his hand in which 
he held the same 1 — a traitor's a6t, indeed, seeing that Bocca belonged to 
Pazzi's company. As soon as the Florentines beheld the fall of the 
standard, and knew that they were betrayed, they suddenly broke and 
fled. Then the Germans fell upon them and did as they would with 
them, especially the foot-soldiers who took refuge in the village of 
Monte Aperti. Amongst them were many men of Lucca and Orvieto, 
who were all killed ; and, besides this, the Florentines lost the Carroccio 
and the bell called Martinella. More than two thousand five hundred were 
slain, and more than fifteen hundred taken prisoners. And when the 
defeated Guelfs returned to Florence from Monte Aperti, there arose 
in the city the most bitter weeping and lamentation over the disaster ; 
because, of wellnigh every noble family, some were left behind dead. 
And as soon as the Guelfs realized that the exiled were beginning 
to return to Florence, they departed with their families, and went to 
take up their abode in Lucca. 

1 Dante, Inferno, xxxii. 

ioo SER GIOVANNI. [day vhi. 

This thing happened in the year mcclx, on the fourth day of 
September, and then the exiled Ghibellines at Siena, with the Conte 
Giordano, who was at the head of the eight hundred Germans, returned 
to Florence without further mishap, laden with spoil which they had 
taken at Monte Aperti. Thus Florence surrendered itself to the 
Ghibelline faction, the Conte Guido Novello dei Conti Guidi being made 
podesta ; and he caused to be made the gate called the Porta Ghibellina, 
which looks towards Casentino, so that he might be able to bring in 
and let depart his own people as he should desire. And from that time 
the street between the gate and the place where justice is dispensed has 
been called the Via Ghibellina. The Guelfs of Florence were severely 
censured in that they went forth to Monte Aperti without knowing where- 
fore ; and when the news reached the Roman court how the Florentines 
had been overthrown at Monte Aperti, the pope and many of the 
cardinals were mightily displeased, because the Church at Rome was 
humbled thereby, and King Manfred greatly strengthened. But 
Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, being a Ghibelline, rejoiced much 
thereat ; wherefore Cardinal Bianco, who was a skilled astrologer, spake 
a prophecy in these words: c The conquered shall conquer in victorious 
fashion, and shall never more be overcome.' And in like manner as 
the Guelfs had quitted Florence, they also quitted Pistoia and Prato and 
San Miniato and San Gimignano, and dwelt in Lucca, in that quarter 
which adjoins San Friano, and the loggia which stands opposite to San 
Friano was built by the exiled Guelfs of Florence. 

The whole of the Tuscan territory being under the sway of the 
Ghibellines, they held an assembly at Empoli, and proposed that Florence 
should be laid waste and become a group of townships ; and this would 
have been carried had it not been for Farinata, who refused to agree 
thereto. 1 And the Ghibellines made Count Guido their captain, and 
went to take the field against the forces of Siena. They took Santa 
Croce, Castelfranco and Santa Maria a Monte, and then went against 
Fucecchio, but this place they could not capture because within it was the 
flower of the Guelf party. Then the exiled Guelfs sent an embassy to 
Germany in order to stir up to rebellion the young Conradin, and to 
induce him to join them ; but this thing his mother forbade, as he was yet 
over young. The following summer Count Guido with all the sections 
of the Ghibelline party took the field against the forces of Lucca, having 
been stirred up thereto by the Pisans ; whereupon the people of Lucca 
made alliance with the Ghibellines and drove the Guelfs out of their city, 

1 Dante, Inferno », x. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 101 

some of them going to Bologna and Modena, and some to France and 
England, in order to make gain by traffic. And hence arose the great 
wealth which came to Florence. Now you have heard how the Guelfs 
let themselves be cozened and banished from Florence, without knowing 
who had wrought them this ill turn." And, having finished her story, 
the amorous Saturnina sang a very sweet song in the following words : 

Once more my ardent longings burn amain, 

And twofold torments in my bosom rise, 
And dire the flame, and pitiless the pain 

Wrought by my lady's sweet and gentle eyes ; 

And as I figure her fair face more clearly, 
The more my soul of love of her is fain. 

I see my fate, and yet I cherish dearly 
My present bliss, what though set round with bane. 

So may I find one sweet in all my woe 

To lull my troubles in a lasting peace, 
To serve her pleasure dear delights me so, 

That coming days will bring me joy and ease; 
Wherefore, though burning love torments me sore, 
I murmur not, so I have peace once more. 

After the fair Saturnina had sung her canzonet in exceeding gracious 
wise, the two lovers brought their amorous discourse to an end for 
that day. They took one another by the hand, and with divers merry 
speeches, and with much courtesy, they gave greeting and said farewell, 
and each departed. 

Ci)e iI2tntl) SDap. 


<©ne Jflaestro^intio, a ^Florentine, goes XaVzmtz to set in orfcer tfje campanile 
of Saint JBtarfc, an* fje outltos liftetotse a palace for tfje puoltc serbice, 
after a certain time fje steals tfjetefcom a cup of sol* ; anfc, fjabing gone 
bacfe tfjttfjer, fje falls into a cauloron of boiling pitcf). Ifticciaroo, fjis son, 
cuts off tfje fjeafc from tfje ootrg, anti aftertoarfcs ISmfco's remains are fjung 
up upon a gibbet. Cfje son carries tfjem off, anli buries tfjem in tfje grounb. 
STfjeg trg in bain to oiscober tfje tfjief bg tfje temptations of gluttons anb 
of lust, anb at last tfje Boge mattes a promise tfjat tfje guiltg man sfjall 
receibe pardon, anfc fjabe fjis oton toaugfjter to toife, if fje brill rebeal himself; 
tofjereupon 3fttcctarbo goes to tfje Boge antr tells fjtm all, ano gets for fjtm= 
self tf)e promised retoaro: 

N the ninth day, when the two lovers had returned once 
more to the chamber where they were wont to meet, 
Auretto began in merry fashion, and said : " Since it 
is my turn to speak to-day, I am minded to narrate to 
you a novel, the hearing of which I believe will give 
you great pleasure. 
In the most illustrious city of Venice there lived in times past a 
Doge who was a man of much magnanimity, well-advised and rich, 
highly skilled and prudent likewise in all affairs, who was called by 
name Messer Valeriano, the son of Messer Vannozzo Accettani. Now 
belonging to the great church of Saint Mark in Venice there was a cam- 
panile which was by far the most lovely, and the most richly adorned, 
and the most grand and stately of all the towers which were at that time 
standing in Venice, and this campanile, as it happened, was now in bad 
case, and like to fall to the ground by reason of certain defects and 
faults in the foundations thereof. And when he was informed of this, 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 103 

the aforesaid Messer the Doge caused a search to be made through the 
whole of Italy, and let it be proclaimed abroad, that, if there should be 
any master builder who was willing to put his hand to the re-edification 
of the campanile aforesaid, he should repair straightway to him, the 
Doge, and then he should receive for his pains all the money that he 
could ever wish to demand and ask for. When this proclamation had 
been duly made a certain worthy master builder of Florence, whose 
name was Bindo, happened to hear at Florence, where he was then 
abiding, what was being done about the Venetian campanile ; where- 
upon he determined at once to set forth for the undertaking of this 
task, and having taken his departure from Florence, accompanied by 
his only son and his wife, he went to Venice. 

When he had duly inspected the campanile he formed a plan how 
he might restore the same ; and, having presented himself to the Doge, 
he said, ' Signor, I have come hither to Venice in order to put in good 
repair the campanile of Saint Mark.' When he heard these words, 
the Doge paid Bindo the greatest respect, and after much conversation 
said to him, ' Good master, I beg you that you will make a beginning 
of this work of yours as soon as you possibly can, so that I myself may 
be witness of the same.' To him the master replied, c My lord, it shall 
be done forthwith ; ' and without any delay he set the works in order, and 
by using the greatest diligence in a very short time he restored the cam- 
panile, both in structure and in shape, so that it was now even fairer 
than it had been aforetime. When the work was done the Doge was 
mightily pleased thereat, and at once handed over to the master the 
sum of money which he asked in payment for his services. He also 
made him a citizen of Venice, and gave him a liberal income. 

After a time he said one day to the master, c I would that you should 
build for me a palace, and fashion therein a certain room constructed so 
as to be fitted to contain all the treasures and all the chattels of the 
Venetian state ; ' whereupon the master straightway set going the works 
for the construction of such a palace as the Doge had spoken of, and 
amongst the other chambers thereof he built one, fairer and better 
placed than all the rest, in which should be deposited the treasure afore- 
said. And in the wall of this chamber he worked with subtle art and 
great ingenuity a certain stone which could be taken in and out, deeming 
the while that he might thereby be able to make his way into the 
chamber whenever he might desire. And the secret of this entrance 
was known to no one in the world save himself. 

When the palace was duly finished the Doge caused his servants to 

104 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

transport into this particular chamber all the rich furniture, and the 
cloths of Damascus worked with golden thread, and the bed curtains, 
and the coverings of couches, and the tunics, and all the other chattels of 
price, as well as great quantities of gold and silver. And this chamber 
was known by the name of the Tarpia l of the Doge and of the Republic 
of Venice, and it was always kept locked with five keys, four of which 
were in the several keeping of the four of the most considerable citizens 
of the state, who were especially chosen and designated for such office, 
and were called the chamberlains for the guardianship of the treasure of 
Venice, and the fifth key remained in the custody of the Doge himself. 
For the reason just given the chamber aforesaid could never be opened 
except it should happen that all five of the persons who held the keys 
thereof should be gathered together at the same time. 

Now Bindo, while he was residing with his family at Venice, having 
meantime been made a citizen of the state, began to spend his money 
freely, and to live the life of a rich man, and, moreover, his son, who was 
called by name Ricciardo, gave himself over to a course of inordinate 
extravagance, so that in the lapse of time they found themselves in want 
of coin wherewith to pay for their life of excessive indulgence. On this 
account the father called to him his son one night, and the two, having 
taken a short ladder and an iron tool made expressly for the purpose 
and a small quantity of mortar, went to the secret entrance to the chamber 
which the master had so ingeniously constructed. Having come there, 
they placed the ladder against the wall and drew the stone forth from its 
place, and went into the chamber, out of which they took a very fair 
cup of gold which was in a chest. Then they went out of the chamber, 
and put the stone back in the place where it was wont to lie. When 
they had regained their own house they broke in pieces the fair cup, and 
sent the fragments thereof to be sold in a certain city of Lombardy, and 
by these means they contrived to maintain the profligate way of life they 
had begun to lead. 

It happened that at this time there arrived in Venice a cardinal who 
had business with the Doge, and the Doge, wishing to pay all due honour 
to his guest, found it desirable to open the secret chamber for the sake 
of the precious things which were stored therein, that is to say, the silver 
plate, and the hangings, and the other treasures ; wherefore, when they 
had let open the secret chamber, and had brought forth the treasures 
aforesaid, they found that one cup was wanting, and immediately there 

1 Qy„ Tarpeia, or strong place. 

novel £.] SER GIOVANNI. 105 

arose a great uproar amongst those who were the guardians of the 
treasure, who ran to the Doge and told him how one of the cups was 
missing. The Doge was greatly astonished, and said to them, c This is 
a matter which concerns yourselves ; ' and after they had conferred at 
length thereanent, he gave orders to them that they should neither do nor 
say anything concerning the business until such time as the cardinal, who 
had lately come to Venice, should have taken his departure. And so it 
was done. 

The cardinal duly paid his visit, and great honour was done to him ; 
and, as soon as he had left the city, the Doge sent forthwith for the 
four chamberlains and demanded to know from them how this cup 
could have disappeared, and furthermore he gave orders to them that 
not one of them should leave the palace till the cup should be found, 
saying to them, f This is an affair which concerns you.' When these 
four men were together by themselves they pondered well over the 
matter, but they knew not nor could they imagine in what manner the 
cup in question could have disappeared. One of them said, i Let us 
consider and see whether any man could possibly find entrance to this 
chamber otherwise than by the door.' Then they examined well the 
chamber in every part without being able to discover any other entrance. 
And, in order that they might investigate the place more minutely, 
they filled the chamber full of soft straw and put fire thereto, and closed 
fast the door and all the windows, so that no smoke could issue there- 
from. And as soon as this soft straw began to burn, so great was the 
force of the smoke which arose therefrom that it penetrated the fissures 
between the stones, and came forth at the secret entrance. By this 
working these men perceived plainly by what means the robbery had 
come about, and they went to the Doge and told him how the matter 
now stood. The Doge said to them, c Say nought about this, for now 
we will discover the thief.' Then the Doge caused to be brought into 
the treasure chamber a cauldron of pitch, which was placed just under 
the secret hole, and he commanded that fire should be put under the 
same, so that day and night it might be kept always at boiling point. 

In the course of time it happened the master builder and his son, 
having lavished all the money they had received for the golden cup, 
went again one night to the secret entrance ; and, after the stone had 
been taken out, the master crept in and fell straightway into the 
cauldron of pitch which was kept always boiling. On this account, 
when he found how he was sunk in the pitch as far as his girdle, and 
could in no way extricate himself therefrom, he gave himself up for 


106 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

dead ; and, having quickly made up his mind, he called out to his son 
and said, c My son, I am now as good as dead, wherefore I bid you cut 
off my head at once, so that the trunk may not be known as mine ; then 
take the head away with you and bury it secretly in some place where 
it will not be found. Give your mother all the consolation you can, and 
see that you be careful in making your way out of this place. If any- 
one shall inquire of you concerning me, say that I am gone to Florence 
on certain private affairs of our own.' 

Hereupon the son began to grieve and to weep bitterly, beating his 
breast and crying out, ' Alas, alas, O my father ! ' Then his father said 
to him, f My son, it is better that one of us should die than both ; where- 
fore do the thing I command you, and do it quickly.' Then the son 
cut off his father's head, and bore it away with him, while the body was 
left in the cauldron, and was boiled for some long time in the pitch, so 
that it was consumed and became like the stump of a tree. The son 
went back to his home and buried his father's head as best he could, and 
afterwards he told to his mother all that had befallen them. When she 
heard this she made great lamentation thereanent ; whereupon her son 
crossed his arms and said, ' If you make such uproar as this we shall 
both be in great peril of death ; therefore, O my mother ! be careful and 
prudent.' And in this wise he pacified her grief. 

On the following morning the body of the master was found and 
taken before the Doge, who was greatly amazed at what had happened ; 
and, finding himself unable to give any reason for the same, he said, 
f Of a truth it is quite certain that two men were concerned in this theft, 
one of whom we have here ; now we must lay hands on the other.' 
Then said one of the four guardians of the treasure, ' I have bethought 
me of a certain method, which is as follows : It cannot be but that this 
robber will have a wife or children, or kinsfolk of some degree, in the 
city. Therefore let us cause this body to be dragged through every 
street, and at the same time direct the guards to watch narrowly to see 
if any one of the bystanders shall weep or show grief at the spectacle. 
If they find anyone mourning in any way, let them take him at once 
to be questioned. By this method, it seems to me, the confederate may 
be discovered.' The others agreed to follow this advice, and they let 
the body of the master be dragged along through all the streets of the 
city, with the guards following behind. And when they were passing 
by the house of the master, his wife chanced to be looking out of the 
window, and when she saw what evil usage was being done to her 
husband's body she raised a loud lament. Then her son cried out, f Alas, 





novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 107 

alas, my mother ! what is it you do ? ' And perceiving at a glance how 
matters stood, he caught up a knife and dealt himself a blow on the 
hand, and made a large wound. As soon as the guards heard the out- 
cry which the woman had made, they rushed into the house and inquired 
of her what was the matter with her. Her son answered, * I was using 
this knife which you see here, and by accident I cut myself in the hand. 
When she saw what I had done, my mother raised a loud cry, for she 
deemed that I had wounded myself much worse than I have.' The 
guards, when they saw how the young man's hand was all bloody, and 
the wound, and the accident which had really happened, believed what 
they heard, and went their way. They passed through every part of 
the city, but they observed no one who was at all afflicted by the sight 
of the body. 

When they had returned to the presence of the Doge, it was further 
determined to hang up the corpse upon the piazza, and in like manner 
to station in some secret place the guards who, both by day and by night, 
should keep careful watch to see whether anyone should come thither to 
grieve or to shed tears. Therefore the corpse was hung up by the feet 
upon the piazza, while the guards were posted in some secret place, and 
there kept a narrow watch, both by day and by night, to see if anyone 
should come to lament or to shed tears over the body. And in a short 
time the report was spread through all the city how this body had 
been hung up in the piazza, whereupon great crowds of the people came 
to gaze at it. And the woman, having heard how the body of her 
husband had been hung up on the piazza, ceased not to cry out to her 
son that it was the foulest shame in the world that his father's body 
should hang thus exposed on the piazza. Her son made answer to her : 
c My mother, for God's sake hold your peace, for what they have done 
in hanging up this body in the piazza they have done for the sake of 
laying hands upon me. Rest content, in God's name, to suffer some- 
what until this affliction shall have passed away.' The mother not 
being able to endure her fate, cried out continually to him, f If I were a 
man, instead of being a woman, he would not now be hanging upon that 
gibbet, and if you will not go and take him down yourself, I will go and 
do it with my own hands.' 

When the young man perceived that his mother was minded to do 
this thing, he began to deliberate how he might best rescue from the 
gibbet his father's body. He procured twelve black hoods of the sort 
worn by friars ; next he went out one night to the harbour, and brought 
back with him twelve porters, whom he made enter the house by 

108 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

the door behind, and then he took them into a small room where he 
gave them to eat and drink all they could desire. And as soon as these 
fellows were well filled with wine, he made them dress themselves in the 
monks' hoods, and put on certain masks made in hideous imitation of 
the human face. Then he gave to each one of them a torch of lighted 
fire to bear in his hand, and thus they all seemed to be veritable demons 
of the pit, so well were they disguised by the masks they wore. And 
he himself leapt upon a horse, which was covered all over with black 
nousings, the cloth thereof being all studded with hooks, to every one 
of which was fastened a lighted candle. Then having donned a mask, 
wrought in very wonderful fashion, he put himself at the head of his 
band, and said to them, 'Now every one of you must do what I do.' 
And in this wise they took their way to the piazza, where the body was 
exposed on the gibbet ; and when they arrived there they all set them- 
selves to run about the piazza, now here, and now there, the hour being 
well past midnight, and the night very dark. 

When the guards saw what strange thing had come to pass, they 
were all seized with dread, and fancied that the forms they espied must 
be those of devils from hell, and that he who sat upon the horse in such 
guise must be no other than great Lucifer himself. Wherefore, when 
they saw him making his way towards the gibbet, they all took to their 
heels through fright, while the young man seized the body and placed it 
in front of him upon the saddle-bow. Then he drove before him his 
troop, and took them back with him to his house. After he had given 
them a certain sum of money, and taken away from them the friars' 
hoods, he dismissed them, and then went and buried the corpse in the 
earth as privily as he could. 

The following morning the news was taken to the Doge how the 
body aforesaid had been snatched away ; whereupon he sent for the 
guards and demanded to know from them how the corpse could have been 
stolen. The guards said to him, c Signor, it is the truth that last night, 
after midnight had struck, there came into the piazza a great company 
of devils, amongst whom we distinctly saw the great Lucifer himself, 
and we believe that he seized and devoured the body. On this account 
we all took to flight when we saw this great troop of devils coming 
against us to carry off the body.' The Doge saw clearly that this theft 
had been done by some crafty dealing, and now set his wits to work to 
contrive how he might find out the one who had done it ; so he called to- 
gether his secret council, and they determined to let publish a decree that 
for the next twenty days it should not be lawful for anyone to sell fresh 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 109 

meat in Venice, and the decree was issued accordingly, and all the people 
were greatly astonished at what the Doge had commanded to be done. 

But during this time he caused to be slaughtered a very delicate 
sucking calf, and ordered it to be offered for sale at a florin a pound, 
charging the man who was to sell the same that he should consider well 
all those who might come to buy the meat. He deliberated with him- 
self and said, ' As a rule the thief is bound to be a glutton as well ; 
therefore this fellow will not be able to keep himself long from coming 
for some of this meat, and it will never irk him to spend a florin for a 
pound thereof.' Then he made a proclamation setting forth that who- 
soever might desire any of the meat must come for it into the piazza. 
All the merchants and the gentlefolk of the city came to buy some of 
it, but not one of them deemed it to be worth a florin a pound, where- 
fore no one bought any of it. The news of what was being done was 
spread through all the place, and it soon came to the ears of the mother 
of the young man Ricciardo. As soon as she heard it she said to her 
son, f In sooth I feel very great longing for a piece of this veal.' 
Then Ricciardo answered and said, * Mother, be not in too great a 
hurry, and let some others take the first cut therefrom. Then I will 
see that you get some of the veal ; but I do not desire to be the one 
who shall take the first portion.' But his mother, like the foolish 
woman she was, kept on begging him to do her will, and the son, out 
of fear lest she might send someone else to purchase the meat, bade 
her make a pie, and himself took a bottle of wine and mixed in the 
same certain narcotic drugs ; and then when night had fallen he took 
some loaves of bread, and the pie, and the wine aforesaid, and, having 
disguised himself in a beard and a large cloak, he went to the stall 
where the carcase of the calf, which was still entire, was exposed for 

After he had knocked, one of these who were on the watch cried 
out, f Who is there, and what is your name ? ' whereupon Ricciardo 
answered, c Can you tell me where I shall find the stall of a certain one 
named Ventura ? ' The other replied, ' What Ventura is it you seek ? ' 
Ricciardo said, f In sooth I know not what his surname may be, 
for, as ill luck will have it, I have never yet come across him.' Then 
the watchman went on to say, f But who is it who sends you to him ? ' 
1 It is his wife,' answered Ricciardo, l who sends me, having given me 
certain things to take to him in order that he may sup. But I beg you 
to do me a service, and this is, to take charge of these things for a little, 
while I go back home to inform myself better where he lives. There 

no SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

is no reason why you should be surprised that I am ignorant of this 
thing, forasmuch as it is yet but a short time since I came to abide in 
this place.' With these words he left in their keeping the pie, and the 
bread, and the wine, and made pretence of going away, saying, c 1 will 
be back in a very short time.' The guards took charge of the things, 
and then one of them said, f See the Ventura 1 that has come to us this 
evening ; ' and then he put the bottle of wine to his mouth and drank, 
and passed it on to his neighbour, saying, c Take some of this, for you 
never drank better wine in all your life.' His companion took a draught, 
and as they sat talking over this adventure they all of them fell asleep. 

All this time Ricciardo had been standing at a crevice of the door, 
and when he saw that the guards were asleep he straightway entered, 
and took hold of the carcase of the calf, and carried it, entire as it was, 
back to his house, and spake thus to his mother, f Now you can cut as 
much veal as you like and as often as you like ; ' whereupon his mother 
cooked a portion of the meat in a large broth pot. The Doge, as soon 
as they had let him know how the carcase of the calf had been stolen, 
and the trick which had been used in compassing the theft, was mightily 
astonished, and was seized with a desire to learn who this thief might 
be. Therefore he caused to be brought to him a hundred poor beggars, 
and after he had taken the names of each one of them he said, c Now go 
and call at all the houses in Venice, and make a show of asking for 
alms, and be sure to keep a careful watch the while to see whether in 
any house there are signs of flesh being cooked, or a broth pot over the 
fire. If you shall find this, do not fail to use such importunity that the 
people of the house shall give you to eat either of the meat or of the 
broth, and hasten at once to bring word to me, and whosoever shall 
bring me this news shall get twenty florins reward.' 

Thereupon the hundred scurvy beggars spread themselves abroad 
through all the streets of Venice, asking for alms, and one of them 
happened to go into the house of Ricciardo ; and, having gone up the 
stairs, he saw plain before his eyes the meat which was being cooked, 
and begged the mother in God's name to give him somewhat of the same, 
and she, foolish as she was, and deeming that she had enough of meat 
and to spare, gave him a morsel. The fellow thanked her and said, f I 
will pray to God for your sake,' and then made his way down the 
stairs. There he met with Ricciardo, who, when he saw the bit of 
meat in the beggar's hand, said to him, f Come up with me, and then I 

1 Ventura, i.e., good fortune. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. m 

will give you some more.' The beggar forthwith went upstairs with 
Ricciardo, who took him into the chamber and there smote him over 
the head with an axe. As soon as the beggar was dead, Ricciardo 
threw his body down through the jakes and locked the door. 

When evening was come all the beggars returned to the Doge's 
presence, as they had promised, and every one of them told how he had 
failed to find anything. The Doge caused the tale of the beggars to be 
taken, and called over the names of them ; whereupon he found that one 
of them was lacking. This threw him into astonishment; but after he 
had pondered over the affair, he said, £ Of a surety this missing man has 
been killed.' He called together his council and spake thus, c In truth 
it is no more than seemly that I should know who may have done this 
deed;' and then a certain one of the council gave his advice in these 
words, f Signor, you have tried to fathom this mystery by an appeal to 
the sin of gluttony ; make a trial now by appealing to the sin of lechery.' 
The Doge replied, f Let him who knows of a better scheme than this, 
speak at once.' 

Thereupon the Doge sought out twenty-five of the young men of 
the city, the most mischievous and the most crafty that were to be 
found, and those whom he held most in suspicion, and amongst them 
was numbered Ricciardo. And when these young men found that they 
were to be kept and entertained in the palace they were all filled with 
wonder, saying to each other, c What does the Doge mean by maintain- 
ing us in this fashion ? ' Afterwards the Doge caused to be prepared 
in a room of the palace twenty-five beds, one for every one of the twenty- 
five youths aforesaid. And next there was got ready in the middle of the 
same room a sumptuous bed in which the Doge's own daughter, a young 
woman of the most radiant beauty, was wont to sleep. And every 
evening, when all those young men had gone to rest, the waiting-woman 
came and conducted the Doge's daughter to the bed aforesaid. Her 
father, meantime, had given to her a basin full of black dye, and had 
said to her, c If it should happen that any one of these young men 
should come to bed to you, see that you mark his face with the dye so 
that you may know him again.' 

All the young men were greatly astonished at what the Doge had 
caused to be done, but not one of them had hardihood enough to go to 
the damsel, each one saying to himself, c Of a surety this is nothing but 
some trick or other.' Now on a certain night Ricciardo became 
conscious of a great desire to go to the damsel. It was already past 
midnight, and all the lights were extinguished ; and Ricciardo, being 

Hz SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

quite mastered by his lustful desire, got out of his bed very softly and 
went to the bed where the damsel lay. Then he gently went into her, 
and began to embrace and kiss her. The damsel was awakened by this, 
and forthwith dipped her finger in the bowl of dye, and marked there- 
with the face of Ricciardo, who perceived not what she had done. 
Then, when he had done what he had come to do and had taken the 
pleasure he desired, he went back to his own bed, and began to think, 
1 What can be the meaning of this, what trick may this be ? ' And after 
a short time had passed he bethought him how pleasant was the fare he 
had just tasted, and again there came upon him the desire to go back to 
the damsel, which he did straightway. The damsel, feeling the young 
man about her once more, roused herself and again stained and marked 
him on the face. But this time Ricciardo perceived what she had done, 
and took away with him the bowl of dye which stood at the head of 
the bed in which the damsel lay. Then he went round the room on all 
sides, and marked with dye the faces of all the other young men that 
lay in their beds so softly that no one perceived what he was doing ; 
and to some he gave two streaks, and to some six, and to some ten, and 
to himself he gave four over and above those two with which the damsel 
herself had marked him. Having done this he replaced the bowl at the 
head of her bed, and gathered her with the sweetest delight in a farewell 
embrace, and then made his way back to his own couch. 

The next morning early the waiting-woman came to the damsel's 
bed to help her dress, and when this was done they took her into the 
presence of the Doge, who at once asked her how the affair had gone. 
Then said the damsel, c Excellently well, forasmuch as I have done all 
you charged me to do. One of the young men came to me three times, 
and every time I marked him on the face with the dye ; ' whereupon the 
Doge sent forthwith for the counsellors who had advised them in the 
matter, and said to them, ' I have laid hands on my friend at last, and 
now I am minded that we should go and see for ourselves.' When they 
had come into the room, and had looked around on this side and on 
that, and perceived that all the young men were marked in the face, they 
raised such a laugh as had never been raised before, and said, ' Of a 
truth this fellow must have a wit more subtle than any man we have 
ever seen ; ' for after a little they came to the conclusion that one of the 
young men must have marked all the rest. And when the young men 
themselves saw how they were all marked with dye they jested over the 
same with the greatest pleasure and jollity. Then the Doge made 
examination of them all, and, finding himself unable to spy out who had 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 113 

done this thing, he determined to fathom the same by one means or 
another. Therefore he promised to the one concerned that he would 
give him his daughter to wife, with a rich dowry, and a free pardon for 
all he had done ; for he judged that this man must needs be one of 
excellent understanding. On this account Ricciardo, when he saw and 
understood what the Doge was minded to do, went to him privily 
and narrated to him the whole matter from beginning to end. The 
Doge embraced him and gave him his pardon, and then with much 
rejoicing let celebrate the marriage of Ricciardo and his daughter. 
Ricciardo plucked up heart again and became a man of such worth and 
valour and magnanimity that wellnigh the whole of the government of 
the state fell into his hands. And thus he lived many years in peace 
and in the enjoyment of the love of all the people of Venice." 


Hrrtgfietto, tfje emperor's son, ijabing concealed fjimself tottfjin an eagle mafce 
of goto, gains entrance to tfje ctjamoer of tfje fcaugijter of tfje l£tng of 
dragon. J^abtng come to an agreement tottfj fjer, fje tafces fjer atoag og 
sea to <K*ermang. <©f tfje toar tofjtcfj ensue* tijereanent, ana of tfje peace 
maoe 6g tfje command of tfje IPope, unoer pain of excommunication. 

FTER Auretto had made an end of his novel, Saturnina 
said to him, " Your story was assuredly a pleasant one to 
listen to, wherefore I in my turn will tell one to you which 
I believe will give you no little delight. 
The King of Aragon had a daughter who was named Lena, young, 
fair, fascinating, well-mannered, and discreet as nature could make her ; 
so that the fame of this noble damsel shone bright through all the land 
and stirred up divers valorous gentlemen to ask for her in marriage ; 
but her father said nay to all of them, and would not part with her. 
The son of the emperor, who was called Arrighetto, having heard 
tell of her loveliness, became enamoured of her and could think of 
nought else than how he might win her to wife. In short, to compass 
his end he devised a most noteworthy and excellent plan. He had in 
his service a certain goldsmith, the most skilful that could be found any- 
where, and he commanded this man to make him a fine eagle of gold, 
of so great size that a man might be hidden therein. And when this 


ii4 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

eagle was duly made, as fair and masterly a work as was ever heard of, 
he handed it over to the goldsmith who had worked at it, and said, ' Go 
now with this eagle into Aragon, and set up a stall filled with your work 
opposite to the palace in which the king's daughter lives, and fail not 
every day to set forth this eagle upon your stall, letting men know 
you are minded to sell the same. I will be there beside you, and you 
must do what I tell you, and not meddle with aught else.' 

The goldsmith took his work, and money enough besides, and 
travelled to Aragon, where he straightway set up a stall in front of 
the palace where dwelt the king's daughter, and began to work at his 
craft ; also on certain days of the week he would set forth to view 
the eagle aforesaid. Whereupon all the people of the city flocked 
to look upon this masterpiece, so wonderful and so fair was the work, 
and one day it chanced that the king's daughter, having gone to 
the window, beheld the eagle and sent word to her father that she 
desired greatly to have it as a plaything. The king asked the goldsmith 
to name a price for the eagle, and, Arrighetto having now arrived in 
the city, the goldsmith told him of the king's request when he met him 
secretly in his lodging, and Arrighetto made answer, c Tell the king 
that you are not minded to sell the eagle ; but that, if it be his pleasure, 
he may have it as a free gift.' Then the goldsmith went to the king 
and said, c My lord, I do not wish to sell this work, but take it, if you 
please, as a free gift from me.' The king replied, { Let it be brought up 
to me here, and we shall soon come to agreement ; ' and the goldsmith 
answered that the king's will should at once be done. He returned to 
Arrighetto, and told him how the king desired to see the eagle ; where- 
upon Arrighetto quickly bestowed himself withinside, taking with him 
certain sweetmeats which had great virtue to sustain nature, and arrang- 
ing the inside of the image so that he could open or close the door at 
his will. Then he bade them take the bird to the king. 

The king, when he saw this beautiful work, gave it to his daughter, 
and the goldsmith went to arrange it in the damsel's chamber, beside the 
bed. And as soon as he had done this, he said, c Madonna, see that 
this work be left uncovered, for it is fashioned of gold of that sort 
which, if it be covered by aught, will tarnish and will no longer shine 
brightly. But I will return to see it again.' The princess replied that she 
would attend to this, and the goldsmith went back to the king and told 
him how the damsel was hugely delighted with the eagle, adding these 
words, ' But I will make it a delight still greater to her, for I will 
fashion a crown which this bird shall bear on its head.' This proposal 

novel u.] SER GIOVANNI. 115 

pleased the king greatly ; and, having made them bring a quantity of 
money, he bade the goldsmith take as much of the same as he would by 
way of payment, but the goldsmith answered that he was paid already, 
since he had won the king's favour. The king held long remonstrance 
with him without inducing him to take the money, his one answer being 
that he was paid already. 

It chanced that one night, when Lena was asleep in bed, that 
Arrighetto issued forth from the bird and went softly to the bed where 
lay her whom he loved better than his own self, and kissed her delicately 
on her fair and rosy cheek. The damsel awoke straightway, being 
mightily alarmed, and cried out, f Salve Regina misericordix} and, all in 
a tremble, called her waiting-woman. Arrighetto stole back to his 
hiding-place, and the maid got up and asked the princess what she wanted ; 
whereupon she said, f I felt by my side someone who touched me on the 
face.' The maid searched all parts of the chamber; and, not having 
heard or seen anything, she went back to bed, saying, f Certes, you must 
have dreamt this thing.' After a short time had passed, Arrighetto 
again stole softly to the bed, and, having given her a sweet kiss, 
whispered, f Dear soul of mine, be not afraid.' The damsel sprang up, 
uttering a great cry, and all the waiting-maids awoke, saying, * What 
ails you ? is there no end to these dreams of yours ? ' Arrighetto had 
by this time concealed himself in the eagle, and the women-folk 
examined the door and the windows ; and, when they found all these fast 
and nothing to be seen, they began to rate the damsel, saying, f If you 
utter another word, we will tell all to your governess. What foolish 
whim is this which keeps us thus awake ? Nice manners these, to shout 
like this at midnight ! Now see that you keep quiet, and try to fall 
asleep, and let us sleep likewise.' 

The damsel was much frightened by these chidings. After a little, 
when Arrighetto thought the time was ripe, he got out of his hiding- 
place and went softly towards the bed, and said, ' My Lena, do not cry 
out or be afraid.' She answered, ' But who art thou ? ' He told her he 
was the son of the emperor, and she demanded to know how he had 
gained admission. Then said Arrighetto, c Most illustrious princess, I 
will tell you. It is long ago since first I fell in love with you, having 
heard tell of your beauty, and many and many a time I have come 
hither to get sight of you ; but, being unable to compass this by other 
means, I caused this eagle to be made, and I came here inside it for the 
sole purpose of holding converse with you. Wherefore I beg you to be 
pleased to show me some pity, forasmuch as there is nought else in the 

n6 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

world that I value save you alone, and you may see that I have risked 
death for your sake.' When the damsel heard these loving words, she 
turned to Arrighetto and said, embracing him the while, f Bearing in mind 
all that you have undergone for my sake, I should indeed be ungrateful 
were I to refuse you your reward ; and so I am content that you use me 
as you will, but first I should like to behold what your seeming may be. 
Now go back to your hiding-place, and fear not, for to-morrow I will 
make believe to sleep, and fasten the chamber-door. Then, when I shall 
be alone, we can look upon one another, and converse more at length.' 
Arrighetto replied, c Madonna, I am full of joy, even though I may die 
therefor, that you have taken me for your lover, and I beg that, in token 
of this, you will give me one kiss.' Then she kissed him tenderly, for 
she felt already in her heart the fire of ardent love, and Arrighetto went 
back into the bird. 

On the following day the damsel gave out that she was minded to 
sleep somewhat, and the time to run before she should see Arrighetto 
seemed to her as a thousand years. Then, having dismissed the maids 
and fastened the door, she went up to the bird, out of which Arrighetto 
issued and knelt at her feet. And when she saw how fair and sprightly 
he was, she threw herself straightway upon his neck, and he, taking her 
in his arms, said, ' 1 am in sooth more blest than any man in all the 
world, seeing that I have gained that delight which I have so long desired.' 
Then he told her the whole adventure, and who he was, in words sweet 
and soft like the most fragrant violets, mingled with delicious kisses. 
It boots not to tell of the love which they ever renewed one with the 
other. They remained together many days and nights in this wise, the 
damsel keeping Arrighetto supplied with sweetmeats, and wines as bright 
and clear as the stars. Moreover, the goldsmith came often to look at 
the bird, and inquired of Arrighetto if he were fain of aught, but the 
prince always answered no. One day Arrighetto said to the princess, 
' 1 desire that we now go to our home in Germany ; ' whereto she replied 
that she was ready to go whithersoever he would. Then said Arrighetto, 
' I will go home and return hither with a ship to that castle of the king's 
which stands by the sea, where I will be on a certain night ; and you 
shall tell your father that you are minded to go walk and look upon the 
sea; and you must wait for me at the castle aforesaid. I will meet you 
there by night, and then, having taken you on board, we will sail away.' 
The damsel answered, c Let all things be done as you say ; ' and then 
she sent for the goldsmith, and bade him take away the bird and fit a 
crown upon the same, so that when she returned to the chamber she 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 117 

might find the thing done. The goldsmith said, * I will do this if the 
prince be willing,' and the princess replied, ' Do as I tell you.' Where- 
upon he took the bird back to his workshop. 

As soon as he found opportunity Arrighetto came out of the bird ; 
and, having taken farewell of the goldsmith, went back to his own 
country, where he gave orders to let furnish straightway a fine ship, to- 
gether with certain armed galleys for defence. When all was ready, he set 
sail and came opposite to the King of Aragon's castle, as it had been agreed. 
In the meantime the princess said to her father, ' My lord, I am fain to 
go to the port, to look upon the sea, and to stay for some few days at 
your castle there.' Her father gave his consent, and commanded certain 
ladies and damsels to bear her company, and to go and take recreation 
with her. The princess went with these ladies to the castle, where she 
joyfully awaited Arrighetto's arrival, praying to God that he might not 
tarry long, and gazing seaward all the day to see if he were coming. 
One night at the appointed hour Arrighetto cast anchor beneath the 
castle, and the princess went down to him forthwith and embraced him ; 
and then Arrighetto, having hurried her on board ship, set sail and 
departed, good luck going with him, and carried the princess away into 
his own country. 

When the morning broke, and when no trace of the princess was to 
be found at the castle, there was great confusion, and news was taken to 
the king how, during the night, certain sea robbers had attacked the 
castle and carried off his daughter. The king was stricken with the 
deepest grief when he came to consider in what wise she had been lost ; 
and, witting not how the case stood, he sent out one of his sons, a youth 
of gallant person, and charged him that on pain of his life he should 
not return without learning where the damsel was, and who had carried 
her away. The brother put to sea, and, following on the track of the 
other ship, heard something which convinced him that his sister had been 
carried off by the son of the emperor. Having made sure of this, he 
returned to his father, and told him how the emperor's son had come in 
person and had taken away the princess. Whereupon the king forth- 
with let equip a vast expedition to attack the emperor's power in 
Germany, and called upon the Kings of France, England, Navarre, 
Majorca, Scotland, Castile, and Portugal, and many other chiefs and barons 
of the west as well. And the emperor, as soon as report was brought to 
him of the preparations for attack which the King of Aragon was making, 
got his array in order and called upon the Kings of Hungary and 
Bohemia, and many other margraves, counts, and barons of Germany, so 

u 8 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

that they came together from all sides, and made up a great army to 
fight against the other in such wise as you shall now hear. After the 
King of Aragon had collected his army he began the march, and entered 
upon the emperor's territories in Germany; and when the emperor heard 
of the invasion, he advanced upon a city called Vienna with a vast army. 
When the two armies were come face to face, the King of Aragon, having 
taken counsel with himself, determined to send to the emperor a challenge 
of battle, which thing he did forthwith, and sent by the hand of his 
trumpeter a bloody glove on a bramble. Arrighetto, as the commander 
of the imperial host, accepted the gage of battle with the highest courtesy, 
and, having made his dispositions, fixed the day when he would take 
the field. 

The night before the battle the King of Aragon appointed twelve 
commanders of the host, all men of great valour and understanding. 
The first squadron was composed of three thousand stout men-at-arms, 
clad in black, the greater part of them being cavaliers with golden 
spurs, and they called themselves the Knights of Death. The king 
made his son, who was called Messer Princivale, the leader of these, 
saying to him, c My son, to-day shall see the vindication of your sister's 
honour; wherefore I pray you to show yourself gallant and stout- 
hearted. Uproot all fear from your breast, and let yourself be cut in 
pieces rather than turn your back on the foe.' And he gave his son a 
standard having on an azure field a golden lion bearing a sword. 
The second squadron was that of the Duke of Burgundy, with three 
thousand Burgundians and Frenchmen well horsed and armed, and 
bearing that day the device of a golden lily upon an azure field. The 
Duke of Lancaster led the third squadron, three thousand Englishmen 
bold and expert in the use of arms, wearing breast-plates and shining 
helmets, and gathered under a standard wrought with three golden leopards 
upon a scarlet field. The fourth squadron was under the command of 
the Kings of Castile and Scotland ; four thousand men-at-arms well 
horsed and equipped, bearing two gonfalons, on one of which was repre- 
sented a white castle upon a scarlet ground, and on the other a green 
dragon, also on a scarlet ground, with an azure bar in the midst. The fifth 
squadron was led and commanded by the Kings of Majorca and Navarre, 
two thousand doughty warriors fighting that day under two standards, 
one bearing a black wolf on a white field, and the other three scarlet 
chequers on a white field with a scarlet band in the midst. The sixth 
squadron was led by Count Novello de Sansogna, and was composed of 
fifteen hundred Provencals under a standard wrought with three scarlet 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 119 

roses upon a white field. The seventh and last squadron was under the 
valorous King of Aragon himself and his four nephews, five thousand 
Aragonese, well armed and equipped and mounted upon vast war- 
horses, and clad in hauberks of mail, carrying on their standard an 
angel with a sword in his hand. Round about this squadron were two 
thousand archers on foot, and the twelve commanders of the host were 
for ever disposing and setting in order the squadrons with such mighty 
noise of trumpet and fife that it seemed in sooth like thunder. 

In like manner the emperor was careful to set in order his forces, 
and that same morning he made his son, Messer Arrighetto, knight and 
Count of Soave, and then gave him for his company three thousand 
knights and barons, all gentlemen of the highest estate. He bore as 
ensign the imperial standard, with a black eagle on a field of gold, and 
carried that day a shield upon which was painted a maiden with a palm 
in her hand, a device wrought by her for whose sake the armies were 
set in array. And after the emperor had given to him this standard 
and company of warriors, he spake thus, * My son, the task before you 
is your own affair ; wherefore I will say no more.' A nephew of the 
King of Hungary led the second squadron, which was formed of five 
thousand Hungarians most excellently arrayed, and had for its ensign 
lilies of gold upon an azure ground with white and crimson bands. The 
aged King of Bohemia led the third squadron, six thousand cavaliers all 
well armed and mounted and eager for battle, bearing as a standard a 
white lion with two tails upon a crimson ground. The fourth squadron 
was led by Seri della Lipa, the Duke of Austria, who had seven 
thousand horsemen burning for the fight and well versed in arms and in 
the usages of warfare. They bore as their standard two pennons, one 
with a two-headed white eagle on a red ground with white spots, and 
the other with a white mountain on an azure field with a sword set in 
the hill aforesaid. The Count of Savoy and Count William of Luxem- 
burg led the fifth squadron, three thousand five hundred cavaliers, 
valorous, stout, and fearless gentlemen, with two pennons, one bearing 
the device of a bear with his rough skin on a yellow ground, and the 
other with red and white quarterings. The Patriarch of Aquileia led 
the sixth squadron, four hundred counts and barons and knights with 
golden spurs, having a banner wrought with a mitre on a crimson 
ground between two white croziers. The seventh and last squadron of 
four thousand Germans, proven men, and as it were born to arms, was 
led by the emperor himself, and marched under the standard which the 
angel brought to Charles the Great, that is, gold and flame, being wrought 

120 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

with a tongue of flame upon a field of gold. And along with this last 
squadron went many brave soldiers, and to each squadron were attached 
four seneschals, who were ever on duty with their respective companies 
to hinder any man from falling out of the ranks, and to prevent any 
mishap or loss. 

The squadrons having been formed and set in order on either side, 
and the pioneers having cut down the fences and trees and filled up the 
ditches, the day broke, and in each army everyone could see the rays of 
the sun shining on the glittering armour ; and they could see, moreover, 
how the wind let flutter the standards and the pennons and the banners, 
and hear the neighing of the horses and the sound of the fifes and 
drums all around, which made it seem as if the world were full of 
thunder and lightning. Never before had there been seen on one field 
so many noble gentlemen in the flower of their age, nor so many valiant 
and skilful and trusty men-at-arms. And if ever an army was wisely 
commanded and directed it was that army of the valiant King of Aragon, 
who, as soon as there was daylight enough for men to see one another, 
went about heartening his soldiers and teaching them the use of arms, 
and exhorting them to wear a bold front this day upon which he had 
resolved to win with his sword the imperial title from the Germans, and 
to make it their own with the utmost glory and rejoicing ; according as 
it had been brought to pass in days past when the good King Charles 
the Great was living. Wherefore he besought each man to bear him- 
self as a paladin, and to remember what lasting fame would be theirs in 
the sight of all those who should come after them, with regard to this 
blessed and glorious day, upon which God and the holy Saint George 
would give them the victory. £ Wherefore,' said he, c see that your 
swords cut deep, and that you take none of the enemy back to prison, 
for dead men fight no battles. And if anyone should have misgiving 
that he will not win this day noble and glorious renown, let him make 
up his mind to die, for we, being in the foeman's land, have no place of 
refuge ; for us there is no hope save in our own swords, so we must needs 
show our mettle.' And then the king gave orders if any of his soldiers 
were found turning for flight, that they should be the first to be slain. 

To all the host of Aragon it seemed a thousand years while they 
were being held back, for they deemed they were battling for the right. 
And the emperor and Messer Arrighetto gave similar orders and 
exhortations to their own host, reminding them that the German blood 
was the noblest and the bravest in the world. 'It is not without 
reason,' they said, 'that we gained the most holy crown of the empire, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 121 

and have kept the same for so long a time ; therefore be brave and stout- 
hearted so as to put an end to the pride and daring of these tramontane 
Gauls, who in their foolish conceit have invaded our land seeking to 
devour us. Think, too, of our forefathers, who were ever men of war, 
and eager to win fame for their fatherland, like the worthy and valiant 
Emperor Otho I. of Saxony and the open-hearted Henry I. and 
Conradin I., the second and the third and the fourth emperors who bore 
the name of Henry, the good Barbarossa, Frederic I., Henry V. of 
Swabia, Otho IV. of Saxony, and divers others.' Meantime the Patriarch 
of Aquileia went about amongst the soldiers blessing them and pardoning 
everyone his sins, exhorting all to fight valiantly and thus win the 

Then the signal having been given on either side, and the opening 
of the battle proclaimed on the part of the emperor by San Polo, and 
by the Knight of St. George on the part of the King of Aragon, the 
two leading squadrons approached one to the other, and having lowered 
their lances drew themselves together for the fray, and casting fear aside 
attacked each other with the utmost valour. Then, when the lances 
were shattered, they took swords in hand, dealing the shrewdest strokes 
upon the shining helmets of their foes, so that sparks flew upward 
therefrom, with such good will did they lay on to one another. It 
chanced that Messer Arrighetto's horse was killed under him and he 
fell to the ground, but he rose quickly, and sword in hand cleared 
a way for himself. Divers of the knights of death were around him, 
but none of them could lay hold on him; when Messer Princivale, 
galloping over the field, came upon him by chance, and they recognized 
each other. Whereupon Messer Princivale shouted to him, 'Traitor, 
you are a dead man ! ' and Messer Arrighetto besought his foe for the 
love of his sister to spare his life. But Messer Princivale replied, ' It 
is not God's will and pleasure that I should have for thee that regard 
which thou hast denied to me,' and he raised his sword and struck with 
such force that, if Messer Arrighetto's armour had not been of the 
finest proof, he must have died that day, the shield on his arm being cut 
clean through. But the nephew of the King of Hungary came to his 
succour with the whole company of Hungarians, and Arrighetto was 
quickly reseated on horseback and fought gallantly sword in hand 
in their ranks. 

And then the opposing army began to fall back before the superior 
weight of the force which pressed upon them, and the Duke of Burgundy 
made an attack with his squadron. The battle raged mightily, and 


122 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

many men were slain ; but the Hungarians moved off somewhat and 
bent their bows with such terrible effect that the arrow-heads seemed to 
dash together; wherefore they slew many of their foes, who were forced 
to fall back. Then the Duke of Lancaster moved forward with his 
stout and valiant English horsemen, and, having come upon the 
Hungarians with all the ferocity of an unchained lion, threatening them 
with death, they fled before him as if they had been sheep. And in this 
wise he encountered the nephew of the King of Hungary, and, having 
levelled his lance, ran against him and hurled him a lance-length off 
his horse. In a trice the Hungarian's foes were on him and around ; 
but, because he was of royal blood, they were not minded to slay him, 
but rather to take him captive. As soon as the Hungarians saw their 
leader taken they broke and fled; whereupon the King of Bohemia, like 
a stout leader, brought up his squadron, greeting his foes with the cry 
4 Came, carneV And the battle raged fiercely around, and the King of 
Castile and the King of Scotland and the Duke of Austria brought 
up the squadrons next in order. When these bands met, the noise and 
crash and ringing made by their arms and armour was so great that it 
seemed as if the air and the earth as well trembled by reason of the 
same. As they rode over the battlefield the King of Scotland en- 
countered the Duke of Austria, wherefore they charged one another 
boldly ; and, when their lances were shivered, they drew their swords, 
and the duke wounded the King of Scotland in the arm so severely 
that he could no longer use his sword, wherefore the duke made 
him a prisoner. 

As soon as the king's soldiers saw that he was taken they rallied, 
and, collecting themselves, made a barrier round the duke, and took 
the king out of his hands by force. Whereupon the hoary-headed 
duke fell upon them with such fury that fortunate indeed was the man 
who escaped him. He drove his course through them with such energy 
that he penetrated even as far as the fifth squadron under the King of 
Navarre and the King of Majorca. These took up their ground 
cautiously, and the King of Majorca having offered battle, lowered his 
lance, and thrust at the duke's breast, so that the lance went right 
through him, and the valiant Duke of Austria bit the dust. The leaders 
of this troop having made such good beginning of the fight their 
courage rose, and they advanced boldly to the spot where stood the 
hosts of the Count and Duke of Savoy and of Count William. There 
the battle raged furious, and the banners of the leaders aforesaid were 
overwhelmed by force, and the ranks thrown into confusion. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 123 

As soon as the Patriarch of Aquileia perceived this he quickly set 
his company in order to meet the onslaught of the King of Majorca; 
and, so good a horseman was he, and so valiant his followers, that he 
soon made a path for himself and charged hotly the position where 
stood the valiant Messer Princivale, who set himself against his foe with 
much caution, and smote him in the breast in such wise that a splinter from 
the shaft of his lance remained in the wound; but so stout-hearted was the 
patriarch that he rode off, and wounded as he was wrought great havoc 
to his foes ; but having lost much blood his face grew pale, and as he 
rode over the field he came upon Messer Arrighetto, who recognizing 
him, and seeing that he was wounded, cried out, ' Alas ! my lord, what 
ails you ? ' The patriarch replied, ' My son, take off my armour, for I 
am a dead man.' Then he quickly did the bidding of the patriarch, 
who went on to say, c I cannot see the light ; so stanch this wound of 
mine and dress it, and then take me where the fight is thickest; for 
certes I am minded, before I die, to slay divers of my foes.' And when 
his wound was bound up he kissed Messer Arrighetto, and blessed him 
and said, ' My son, grieve not for my death, but take example from me, 
and may God be with you ! This, however, is not the time to spend in 
talking.' Then he went into the fight with his two-handed sword, and 
it was ill for all those who stood in his path. After he had colle&ed 
his forces for a little his strength gave way, and he fell dead. 

It came to pass that Messer Arrighetto, when he saw approach the 
troops of the Count of Sansogna, advanced with his own, which had 
rested somewhat, and attacked the count with desperate valour. The 
count perceiving how reckless was the onslaught charged boldly to meet 
him ; whereupon Arrighetto struck him with his lance on the breast, 
driving it right through him, so that the brave count was hurled from 
his horse, and after a short time died. His body was taken up by his 
people and carried from the field. When the King of Aragon saw how 
the good Count of Sansogna was dead he could not restrain his tears ? 
and having taken lance in hand he cried out, c Let all soldiers whose 
hearts are with me follow me.' Then he rushed forward with the fury 
of a tempest, putting to the sword all who came in his way, raging over 
the battlefield like a dragon, so that all fled before him. The emperor, 
waxing wroth against the King of Aragon, and seeing how the fight was 
going, sent forward his own army ; and when these two hosts met they 
seemed to be devils of hell, so great was the raging and the uproar on 
either side, and so exceeding fierce were the blows they gave and took. 
The King of Aragon slung his shield behind his back, and, having 

i2 4 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

grasped his two-handed sword, he cut down all before him, so that all 
fled, being unable to withstand his sword-play. Many barons and 
counts met death at his hands ; the fight became more embroiled than 
ever as he dealt and received the heaviest strokes, cutting through 
weapons and hands and arms as well, and letting the field be plentifully 
sprinkled with blood. 

Meantime the emperor with his forces wrought great havoc upon 
his enemy ; and it chanced that the King of Aragon came upon a foun- 
tain where Messer Arrighetto was quenching his thirst, having taken off 
his helmet. When the King of Aragon had dismounted, he recognized 
Messer Arrighetto by his arms, and, without saying aught, took his sword 
and dealt Messer Arrighetto a foul blow on the face, saying, ' This I give 
thee especially by way of dowry with my daughter.' He remounted 
his horse, and went on to say, c Take up your arms, for to-day you must 
die here at this fountain by my hand/ Messer Arrighetto replied, c It 
is not the habit of cavaliers to fight with those who give blows so foul as 
the one you have given me.' The king answered, ' Bind up your wound 
and get on your horse, for I am minded to see whether you are in sooth 
the stout youth you are reported to be.' And while they were bandying 
words there came to refresh themselves at the fountain the Count Guy 
of Luxemburg with certain of his barons, and they, having recognized 
the King of Aragon and Messer Arrighetto, and listened to the dispute 
between them, addressed the king and told him how they were willing 
to compose this quarrel, and the king and Messer Arrighetto gave their 
consent. The count said, ' My lord king, I desire that for to-day an 
end may be put to the fight, so that when Messer Arrighetto shall have 
had his wound dressed, and be once more able to fight, you two may 
meet on the field and settle the dispute between yourselves, in order to 
prevent the slaughter of so many brave men for the sake of one woman, 
for by my faith I have never yet looked on so bloody a battle as this.' 
The king and Messer Arrighetto agreed, and made handfast pledge for 
single combat. Then they rode back to the field, and each side let sound 
the trumpet signal of retreat, but they found it hard work to stop the 
fighting, so savage had the combat become. 

In the evening, when both hosts had returned to camp, the King of 
Aragon summoned together all the kings and counts and barons who 
were on his side, and told them what he had done and promised ; where- 
with all were agreed, save Messer Princivale, who said, ' My lord, I 
have set my mind to fight this youth, because I too am young. More- 
over, all this day I have gone about the field seeking him, but have not 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 125 

been able to find him.' The king replied, ' My son, let him get well, 
and then do as you will.' It happened that the pope, having heard of 
the great force which these two princes had collected, sent to them two 
cardinals to make peace between them, and the churchmen, finding that 
affairs wore an ill complexion, spake often with the emperor, and like- 
wise with the King of Aragon, who at last agreed to make peace, albeit 
with ill grace. But so powerful were the entreaties made to the nobles 
and commanders by the cardinals, for the pope threatened excommuni- 
cation if they should be disregarded, that peace was agreed upon, with 
God's pleasure, and they became friends. Next they held high festival 
and rejoicing when Messer Arrighetto took to wife the daughter of the 
King of Aragon, and Messer Princivale the daughter of the emperor 
and the sister of Messer Arrighetto. And when all injuries were for- 
given, and peace and alliance contracted by the instrumentality of the 
two cardinals, they went their several ways with great joy and satis- 
faction, and all returned to their own land, good fortune speeding 

When the story was finished, Auretto began and said, " This novel 
assuredly is a fine one, and one which pleases me amain. Now I will 
sing you a canzonet," and he sang the one which follows : 

" What is the root of evil, tell me, pray? " 
Woman, I cry, and none can this gainsay. 

Since love is blind, and scant is faith in all, 

And woman hath in loyalty no share, 
A fool is he who makes himself love's thrall, 

Or deems a woman's oath aught but a snare ; 

For never one drew breath, or dark or fair, 
Who kept her troth, save she was bent that way. 

For love of woman Troy was overthrown, 
And many heroes great thereby were slain, 

Through love of Helen and of Hesion, 

Their wayward looks, their foolish deeds and vain ; 
For madness surely must have been their bane, 
Who darkened for love's sake their happy day. 

Then let each lover bear him peacefully, 

And cease to follow what he may not find. 
How many hath love tricked in days gone by, 
Who to make trial of him were inclined ? 
No new thing this, wherein were first combined, 
The blossom and the root of love's sweet play. 

iz6 SER GIOVANNI. [day ix. 

My song, now speak thee kind and courteously 
To lovesick maidens, and to youths as well. 

For sure I am that thou wilt censured be 
For these thy verses kind and laudable. 
Care not that they be fooled, who dare not tell 
Their dear desires, nor eke their longings say. 

When the canzonet was finished, the two lovers clasped hands to- 
gether, thanking one another, and said farewell, and departed rejoicing 
in their good fortune. 

Ct)e Centy 2Dap- 


Ct)e MitiQ of ISnglanfc tafees to toife Btonigta, tfje *augf)ter of t^e .jFrenci) 
fctng, tofjom f)c tjato founfc in a conbent of f)ts islano. £5f)e te aftertoarfcs 
orougijt to oetr toitf) ttoo male rfnloren in fjer tjusoantTs aosence, anfc is 
forced, og reason of slander raised against fjer og tier moti)er=m4ato, to 
leabe tfje court ano flg to Iftome toitf) j)er cfjiloren. ISn tofiat cfjance tfje 
ttoo Sings, rejoicing greatlg tijereanent, recogni3e J)er, tfje one as f)is totfe, 
an* tfje otter as Jus sister. 

N the tenth day, when the two lovers had returned to 
their wonted meeting-place, Saturnina began and said, 
" I will now tell you a story which I think you will 
find to your liking, forasmuch as it seems to deal with 
a subject in which you take great pleasure. 

A certain King of France had a daughter called 
Dionigia, who was fair and graceful as any lady of the time. Her father, 
desiring to give her in marriage to a rich husband, resolved that she 
should wed a very mighty prince of Germany, who was seventy years of 
age, but the damsel had no mind for him ; wherefore the father deter- 
mined to force her to these nuptials, whether she would or not. The 
maiden thought of nothing else than how she might fly her home ; and 
one night, having put on pilgrim garb, and dyed her face with a certain 
herb which changed the colour thereof, and taken some precious stones 
which her mother had left her when dying, she made her way towards 
the seacoast. When she came to the sea she embarked on a ship and 
crossed over to the island of England. In the morning, when the king 
missed his daughter, he caused a search for her to be made all through 
the city and the kingdom as well ; and, not being able to find her, he 
concluded that she had made an end of herself through grief. 

128 SER GIOVANNI. [day x. 

The damsel, as soon as she landed, took her way to a certain city, where 
she came upon a convent, one of the richest in the island, which was under 
the rule of a prioress who was a kinswoman of the king. Having gone 
within, the damsel said to the prioress that she would fain become a nun ; 
whereupon the prioress demanded of her who she was, and who was her 
father. Dionigia replied that she was the daughter of a burgess of 
France, that both her father and mother were dead, and that she, having 
wandered much about the world, now desired to devote herself to God's 
service. The prioress, perceiving how gentle and sweet-natured she 
was, decided to take her as a novice and employ her partly in her own 
service ; so she said to her, c My daughter, I will gladly receive you, but 
first let it be that you make trial of our rule and of our life ; then, if 
this house of ours be to your liking, you can put on the habit.' 
Dionigia was fully satisfied with this proposal, and, having entered the 
convent, she began to serve the prioress and the other sisters with such 
great meekness that all those in the convent held her very dear. 
Moreover they marvelled greatly at her beauty and at her gentle 
manners, saying, c Certes, this must be some lady of high birth.' And 
it happened a short time after this that the King of England, who had 
lately lost his father by death, went travelling through his dominions, 
and arrived at the monastery on a visit to his kinswoman, the prioress, 
by whom he was made welcome with the greatest honour. 

While he tarried there he chanced to see Dionigia, and her image 
took possession of his mind more than he could say ; wherefore he 
inquired of the prioress who she might be. The prioress told him, and 
likewise when and in what fashion she had come thither, and how she 
had borne herself. The king forthwith desired to make her his wife, 
and made known his wish to the prioress, who answered that she was 
loth to let him take such a step, forasmuch as she knew nought as to 
who the damsel might be ; moreover, it behoved him to wive with the 
daughter of some king or emperor, but the king answered her, { Certes, 
this damsel must be the daughter of some great prince, her beauty and 
gracious manners declare it.' The prioress agreed that she was all the 
king declared her to be, and the king went on and said, c In sooth, I 
would fain have her just as she is.' Whereupon the prioress, having let 
summon Dionigia, said to her, ' Dionigia, God has prepared for you a 
grand fortune, so listen to what it is. The King of England desires to 
make you his wife.' When the damsel heard these words her face fell, 
and she declared that under no conditions would she consent, for that 
she desired to be a nun, entreating the prioress not to speak more to her 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 129 

on the matter. This thing the prioress told to the king, and he in the 
end determined that he would sweep aside every occasion of refusal and 
have Dionigia at all cost. The prioress, perceiving how strongly he was 
bent on possessing the maiden, plied her with such persuasion that at 
last she consented, and was married to the king in the presence of the 
prioress. Then, having bidden farewell, the king returned with his 
wife to London, and made in his palace the most sumptuous feastings, 
to which he bade all the barons of the realm, who, when they saw how 
very fair and well-mannered and modest Dionigia was, they all, as it 
were, fell in love with her. 

But because the king had chosen his wife in this wise, his mother 
refused to attend the marriage feast, and departed, mightily incensed, to 
her estates. Dionigia bore herself so exceeding well that the king loved 
her better than his own life. Shortly after marriage she became with 
child, and, just at this same time, the king was forced to lead a great 
army against a certain island which had revolted ; so, having taken 
farewell of his wife, and given directions to his viceroy to have good 
care of her and to honour her as queen, and likewise to let him know 
of her delivery, he departed from England. In due time the queen 
gave birth to two sons, and the viceroy wrote the news to his lord. The 
messenger who bore the letter chanced to pass by the castle where the 
king's mother was living, and there he halted, telling also of the birth 
of the twin boys to the queen-mother, whose anger increased twofold 
when she heard the news. During the night, when the messenger was 
sleeping, she changed the letter which he bore for another, in which she 
had set down how there had been born to the queen two apes, the foulest 
and most misshapen that were ever seen; and the next morning, 
having given the messenger good entertainment, she sent him onward, 
charging him that on his return he should take the same road, which 
thing he promised to do. He departed, and, having ridden to the spot 
where the army was, he gave the false letter into the hand of the king, 
who, when he had read the same and learnt what had come to pass, 
seemed to be like one stunned and confounded; but he wrote nevertheless 
to the viceroy, charging him to let the creatures have due nurture, and to 
treat the queen gently and well until the time of his return, which would 
be soon. Then, having despatched the same messenger with a letter, he 
remained stricken with the sharpest grief. 

The messenger received the letter, and, according to his promise, 
took the road which led him to the castle of the queen-mother, where 
he lay the night; and, while he slept, the lady took away the letter 

1 30 SER GIOVANNI. [day x. 

written by her son, and when she had read the same without being 
able to find therein any orders for the putting to death of her 
daughter-in-law, she was greatly disturbed, and, in place of the real 
letter, she wrote a false one, which said, ( As soon as you shall receive 
this, take the mother and her offspring, and, because I am assured that 
these can be no children of mine, let them all be done away with together.' 
This she put in the pocket of the messenger while he slept, and in the 
morning, having loaded him with favours, she sent him on his way. 
The messenger, who knew nought of what had been done, departed, and, 
having come to London, gave the letter to the viceroy, who, as soon as 
he had read it, was mightily astonished, and inquired of the messenger 
who could have given him this letter. The messenger replied, c I had 
it from the hand of the king himself; and, in respect to this, I can tell 
you the king was greatly disturbed when he read what you had written 
to him.' The viceroy, when he heard these tidings, was grieved amain, 
and in this mood he betook himself to the queen, and showed her the 
king's letter, saying, f My lady, read this.' The queen, as soon as she 
had read the same, began to weep bitterly, crying the while, • Alas, how 
wretched is my life, that I have never known an hour of happiness ! ' 
Then, having taken her children in her arms, she said, ( My little ones, 
how malignant is the fortune under which you have come into this world ! 
and what sin can you have committed that you must needs die ? ' Thus, 
weeping the most bitter tears that ever were shed, she kissed her poor 
little children, who in sooth were as beauteous as two stars, and the 
viceroy joined his piteous lamentations to hers, not knowing what part 
he should take. Then, turning to the lady, he said, ' Madonna, what 
are you fain to do, and what would you that I should do ? You see 
what commands my lord here writes to me ; nevertheless I have not the 
heart to put my hand to any such enterprise. Do you take your children 
by stealth, and I will go with you as far as the port. Then you can 
make your way by sea, and God go with you, to whatsoever place 
fortune may lead you, where you perhaps may find things more to your 
liking ; ' and to this counsel Dionigia readily agreed. 

The following night, having taken her two children by stealth, and 
gone down to the port, she went up to a sailor and said to him, c Take 
me on board, and convey me to Genoa, for which service I will pay you.' 
The viceroy too spake in her favour to the sailor, and gave him money ; 
whereupon she took leave of him, with much grief and weeping. The 
vessel, the wind being fair, brought the sorrowing lady in brief time to 
Genoa, where she sold certain jewels she had with her, and hired two 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 131 

nurses and two waiting-women. Next she went on to Rome, where she 
applied herself diligently to the education of her two sons, of whom one 
was called Carlo and the other Lionetto. She passed her life in seemly 
fashion, and brought up her two sons, who, increasing in worth as much 
as in stature, were a marvel to all who knew them, and their mother 
gave them into the care of the most skilful teachers, so that they might 
become versed in all the polite learning which gentlemen ought to 
possess. As they were growing up to manhood, she caused them to 
frequent the pope's court, without letting anyone know whose sons they 
were. When the pope came to know of the gentle and holy life which 
this lady led, and furthermore to see how accomplished and comely were 
her sons, he showed towards her great favour and affection, and con- 
ferred upon the family a handsome provision, with which they were able 
to maintain servants and horses and to enjoy the best of life. 

It came to pass that the pope desired to voyage over sea, and take 
arms against the Saracen ; wherefore he called upon all the leaders of 
Christendom, amongst whom were the King of France and the King of 
England, that they should please to visit Rome in person, for the reason 
that he wished to take counsel with them with regard to this voyage ; 
and thus, through the bidding of the pope, the two kings found them- 
selves in Rome. But in this place it must be told how the King of 
England, when he returned from the conquest of the revolted island, 
inquired of his viceroy concerning the welfare of his wife and her 
offspring ; whereupon the viceroy made answer that he had done what the 
king had commanded, though not to the full extent thereof; for the 
written order was that he should kill them all, and he had, in lieu of 
doing this, sent them out of the kingdom. Then, by way of testimony, 
he laid before the king the letter. When the king read this he was 
greatly distressed, and set himself earnestly to discover how the mischance 
could have come about, and when he had convinced himself that it was 
his mother's work, he was filled with rage against her, and caused her to 
be slain forthwith. Next he searched for his wife in every part ; and, 
when it was told to him how she had given birth to two fair boys, he was 
like to die with grief, so that for a long time no one dare speak of the 
matter in his hearing, and he would not be consoled, so great was the 
love he had for this lady whom he had so unfortunately lost. 

As soon as the king received from the pope the summons that he 
should repair with the King of France to Rome, he set forth, and, 
having come into France, travelled on with the King of France to Rome, 
where they were received by the pope with great favour. And it came 

1 32 SER GIOVANNI. [day x. 

to pass that as they went about the city they were seen by the lady 
aforesaid, who recognized one of them as her husband and the other as 
her brother (her father the king being by this time dead) ; whereupon 
she went straightway before the pope and said, c Most blessed father, 
your Holiness knows how I have never wished to let it be known who 
was the father of these sons of mine, nor who I am ; but, now that the 
season has come for me to reveal these two things, I will tell them to you, 
leaving what may ensue thereanent to be disposed according to your 
holiness' pleasure. Know then that I am the daughter of a King of 
France, and sister of the one who is now in Rome, and that through over- 
boldness I fled the country, because my father wished to marry me to 
an old man against my will, and went to England, where I abode in a 
convent. The King of England chanced to see me, and, being ena- 
moured of me, made me his wife without knowing who I was, and in a 
short time I brought forth these two boys. At their birth he, being away 
from the kingdom, sent word back that I, together with the children, 
should be put to death, for he denied that they were his. But by the 
help of one of his officers I fled, and came at last to this city, where I 
have lived, bringing up these unfortunate sons of mine as your Holiness 
knows well.' And with these words she was silent. 

The pope, having spoken kindly to her, let her depart, and then 
caused to come before him the two kings and the two youths aforesaid, 
when he spake thus to the King of France, f Most illustrious king, 
know you these children ? ' Whereto the king replied, c Of a truth I 
do not.' Then he questioned the other king in similar wise, and received 
the same reply. The pope turned to the King of England and the 
King of France, and told them how the matter stood, and handed the 
boys over to them, to the one as sons and to the other as nephews. The 
kings accepted their charge with the greatest joy, and asked at once 
about the mother, whereupon the pope caused her to be brought to 
them. When she came in she embraced her brother with the greatest 
affection, but spake not a word to her husband, and, when he demanded 
to know the cause of this, replied, £ I have good reason for what I do, 
considering the cruelty you have practised towards me.' Then the 
King of England, weeping the while, told her how the affair had come 
about, what had been the cause of her misfortune, and the vengeance he 
had wrought upon the author thereof. The queen, having shown her- 
self satisfied with this excuse, they let celebrate in Rome the greatest 
rejoicings that ever were seen, and abode there several days in feasting 
and jollity ; and, when the pope had given them licence to depart, the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 133 

king got ready for the journey. But the queen said to him, ' I give to 
you these two boys as your sons, and commend them to you ; so go, and 
God be with you, but as for me, I am minded to tarry here to work for 
the salvation of my soul, and to abjure this world henceforth.' The 
king replied that he would never leave Rome without her, and a great 
dispute arose between them. But the pope and her brother the King 
of France besought her so earnestly that she went back with her hus- 
band, who then became the happiest king that ever was ; and, having 
taken leave of the pope, they set forth in the company of the King of 
France, by whom they were entertained with the most sumptuous feasts 
and rejoicings ; and, these done, they took their way to England." 


3^oto an* at tofjat time tfje cttg of 3&ome bias built. 

HEN Saturnina's novel was finished, Auretto spake thus, 
" Your story indeed was a very good one ; and now, as it 
seems to me that they tell more noble and excellent stories 
concerning Rome than of any other city that ever was 
built, not only in Italy, but in the whole world, by reason of the great 
deeds which have been done there, I will tell you how and at what season 
this city was built." And he began as follows : 

" In the city of Alba there was once a king who was descended from 
iEneas, son of Anchises, and who bore the name of Procas. He had 
two sons, one called Numitor and the other Amulius, and it came to pass 
that Amulius drove his elder brother by force and violence out of the 
kingdom, and took the daughter of Numitor, who was named Rea, and 
shut her up in the monastery of the goddess Vesta, so that she might 
bear no children. But it chanced that Rea became pregnant by a priest 
of the god Mars, and brought forth two sons, one called Romulus and 
the other Remus. On account of this sacrilegious act Amulius caused 
her to be buried alive in the spot where now stands the city of Rieti, 
which place was afterwards built and called Reate, and then he took the 
two children and gave orders that they should be cast into the Tiber ; but 
his servants were taken with compassion, and instead of drowning them 
laid them in a thicket of thorns. A herdsman named Faustulus passed 

134 SER GIOVANNI. [day x. 

thereby, and, having espied the children, he took them up and bore 
them to his cottage. He handed them over to his wife, whose name 
was Laurentia, in order that she might suckle them, and their nurture 
was in this wise. 

But some there are who affirm that these two children were begotten 
by the god Mars himself; but this is not true, forasmuch as their father 
was a priest in the temple of the god aforesaid ; and again, some say that 
they were suckled in the thicket by a she- wolf, but this again is false. 
But because the wife of this shepherd was a lewd woman, who readily 
gave herself to serve the needs of other men, she bore the name of Lupa, 
to wit, one who can never be satisfied. As these two youths grew up 
they became the stoutest and strongest of all the shepherd lads, and in 
course of time they became so daring that they gathered together all the 
outlaws and robbers of the land and levied war and captured divers 
towns. Having now a large following, they founded Rome, and built a 
wall round the place, which had been formerly a wood, and they built in 
this place and in that divers hovels of straw where the shepherds might 

Now it happened that Romulus became so infuriated one day that 
he slew his brother in this wise. He put forth a command that no one 
should pass beyond the walls of Rome under pain of losing his head ; 
but one day, when Remus his brother was fowling, a bird escaped him 
by flight, and he found he needs must pass the boundaries aforesaid ; 
wherefore, when Romulus heard thereof, he caused his brother to be 
beheaded straightway, and became himself the chief, being then not 
more than twenty- two years of age. It happened that there was great 
lack of women in Rome, and on this account Romulus made ready a 
most sumptuous festival, with games of all sorts; and thither came 
many fair women from without, and especially from the Sabine towns. 
As soon as the feast had come to an end, the Romans, according to the 
command given to them by Romulus, seized all the women by force 
and kept them as their wives. Then Romulus chose a hundred of the 
oldest of his company to be his counsellors in the making laws and 
statutes, and he ruled Rome for eighteen years. For when he was thirty 
years of age, he walked one day by a river, and a cloud descended and 
concealed him ; and when this cloud had cleared away there was nothing 
of Romulus to be seen, neither bones, nor skin, nor any other trace. 
Wherefore his people declared that the god Mars, his father, had taken 
both his body and soul up to heaven. But, for my part, I believe that 
he was carried away by the river aforesaid. And in this wise Rome 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 135 

was built by Romulus in the year four thousand four hundred and 
eighty-four after the creation of the world." 

When Saturnina had finished her novel she began her canzonet and 
sang as follows: 

The wise man mourns for time unwisely sped. 

Let him not waste the hours who yearns for fame, 

Or fain would favour win from courteous dame, 
For faithful watcher may not nod the head. 
Time flies with him who lies in downy bed ; 

He shuns the grasp of those who pant behind ; 

So let each one seek what he fain would find, 
The darling boon of grace and goodlyhead. 

Trust not the future, unless Fate so will, 
Which comes so slowly for thy bene and prize. 

What though thy path lie up the stubborn hill, 
It is not what it seems to other eyes. 

Who grapples with his task will better fare 

Than he who works by strategy and snare. 

For never was a dame to love so new 

Who would not soften (save I were asleep 

What time I should have wooed) and let me reap 
The full reward for all my service true. 
He must watch well who fain would let ensue 

The crown of all delight and joy and pride. 

Wherefore my song, if thou fly far and wide, 
Treat all love-laggards with your censure due ; 

But fail not thou to play the generous part 

To him who wise and valiant is of heart. 

When the song was finished the two lovers gave thanks one to the 
other with gracious smiles, and in the sweetest fashion exchanged 
kisses. Then, making due reverence, they bade farewell and each one 
departed, God speeding. 

€f)e Cletoentt) 2Dap* 


$n to^at manner \ty citg of ^Florence toaa fault. 

N the eleventh day, when the lovers went back to their 
accustomed meeting-place, Auretto said, " Forasmuch 
as it behoves me to begin to-day, I will tell you how 
the city of Florence was built, if you will give me 
your attention. 

To set before you fully the story of the building of 
Florence, I shall find it convenient to tell you from the beginning the 
reason why Fiesole was destroyed, and next to let follow the story of 
the building of Florence. In the days when Rome was ruled by 
consuls, there were two senators, named Marcus Tullius Cicero and 
Mark Antony ; and besides these a certain citizen, descended from the 
progeny of Tarquin, who was called Catiline, a man of dissolute life, 
but stout and valiant, and a skilful speaker, albeit wanting in counsel. 
Now this man, finding the rule of the consuls irksome to him, made plans 
against the senate to destroy them, and then to ravage and burn the city, 
in order that he might rule alone. In this design he would easily have 
succeeded had it not been for the working of Marcus Tullius, and thus 
there fell upon Rome great discord and ruin. 

But because this Catiline had a great following they did not dare to 
lay hands upon him ; wherefore he withdrew with a large band of men 
of his own faction to the ancient city of Fiesole in Tuscany, where he 
found Manlius his colleague also with a large army. Then Fiesole 
rebelled against the rule of the Romans, and all the outlaws of Rome 
and of Tuscany assembled there, and began to make war against their 
country. When the Romans heard of this they despatched thither 
Publius with his legion, and certain other troops, with orders to let halt 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 137 

his forces before Fiesole. Also they sent letters to Quintus Metellus, 
who was then returning from France with a large army, directing him 
to repair with his force to Fiesole. Catiline, being advised of what was 
afoot, and without hope of succour from any quarter, seeing that 
Quintus Metellus was already in Lombardy, made up his mind to fly the 
place, and this he did. He quitted Fiesole and took his way to the 
plain of Pistoia, but his adversaries perceived in which direction he had 
gone by the track his host left behind. When Catiline saw how the 
matter stood, and how great was the force arrayed against him, he 
courageously set his army in order and addressed his soldiers in high- 
hearted words, saying, f Soldiers, be of good heart ; the popular faction, 
indeed, has never yet won the victory ; but let us now strike a stout 
blow, for it is better to die with honour than to live shamefully and 
surrender. Rather let us put ourselves into Fortune's keeping than be 
taken to Rome and cast into prison.' Then, having drawn up his 
battalions, the battle began, and the end of it was that Catiline and all 
his followers were slain in this fierce and obstinate fight, and the Romans 
kept the field, what though few of them survived. The wounded made 
shelter for themselves all round the country, and they were nursed in 
the spot where Pistoia now stands. Hence the name of the place, 
forasmuch as the great mortality and pestilence gave to the city the 
name of Pistoia. 1 Quintus Metellus, who was then in Lombardy, heard 
of this great overthrow and quickly marched thither. When he saw 
how great the slaughter had been he was vastly astonished thereat ; and, 
having collected the plunder of the dead and the battlefield, he went 
and let his army encamp at Fiesole, and one of his commanders, called 
Florinus, fiercely attacked the people of Fiesole. But one day the army 
of Fiesole in a sally drove him back beyond the river Arno, and divers 
sharp encounters between one army and the other took place. Quintus 
Metellus and Florinus, considering how scanty was their force, sent 
to Rome for fresh troops; whereupon the Romans sent them Julius 
Caesar, Cicero, and Macrinus with a body of horse and foot, and 
these set their camp in order at Fiesole, and there remained for six 

Later on, through the heavy losses which there fell upon them, they 
were greatly troubled and reduced in number, wherefore they departed 
and returned to Rome ; but Florinus and his company remained in those 
parts, and built a fort on the river Arno, which he strengthened with 

1 Brunetto Latini (Tesoro, i. 37). 

138 SER GIOVANNI. [day xi. 

ditches and palisades, and harried his adversaries greatly. It came 
to pass that the men of Fiesole, having taken heart, sallied forth one 
night with ladders and other warlike instruments, and, fighting desperately, 
captured their fort ; and having entered the same, they slew Florinus and 
his wife and his children and wellnigh all of his company, so that scarce 
any survived. When this news came to Rome, how Florinus and the 
greater part of his force had been put to the sword, great lamentations 
arose over this misfortune, and the rulers sent forth a mighty army, in 
which amongst others were Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Macrinus, Count 
Rinaldo, Tiberinus, Albinus, Gneius, Martius, Camerinus, and the Count 
of Todi. With this host they besieged Fiesole, assaulting it with a fierce- 
ness unknown before, but on account of the strength of the walls and of 
the site those who were within took little harm therefrom. And when 
the besiegers saw that they worked little hurt upon those within the 
town, and that they themselves were put to great loss and suffering, all 
the leaders departed and returned to Rome with their troops, except 
Csesar, who swore that he would not go thence until he should have 
overthrown the place. And it would have been no marvel had he 
failed to overcome it by warfare, seeing that it was the strongest 
and altogether the best placed city in all Europe. The story goes that 
Atlas, a descendant of Japhet, the third son of Noah, had to wife a 
woman named Electra, of the seed of Cain, and that the said Atlas, with 
his wife Electra and many followers, urged by the prophecy of Apollo, 
his soothsayer and master, betook himself into the province of Tuscany 
in Italy, which land was then without inhabitants, and there they settled, 
having discovered by the voice of the stars that this was the most 
salubrious and best situated spot in all the bounds of Europe. 

Now the bounds of Europe are these. The first begins in the east 
by the river called the Don in the Soldan's country, which flows into the 
Masotic swamp, which in its turn reaches the Pontic sea. Upon this sea 
lies a part of Europe, to wit, Carmania, Russia, Wallachia, Bulgaria, and 
Alania, extending as far as Constantinople. Next towards the south 
follow the islands of the Archipelago in the Grecian sea, which surrounds 
the whole of Greece as far as Achaia, or rather Morea, and then stretches 
out towards the north into the sea called the Adriatic Gulf, now the 
Gulf of Venice. Upon this lies that part of Romania towards Durazzo 
and Sclavonia, and a certain projecting portion of Hungary. It stretches 
as far as Istria and Friuli, and then turns to the right hand towards 
Treviso and to the city of Venice. Then to the south it goes by the 
countries of Italy, Romagna, and the march of Ancona, Abruzzi, Apulia, 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 139 

as far as Calabria opposite to Messina and the island of Sicily. Next it 
turns to the west by the shore of our sea to Naples and Gaeta, and then 
to Rome ; onwards it skirts the Tuscan land as far as Pisa and Genoa, 
leaving on the opposite side the isles of Corsica and Sardinia. Then 
it follows the coasts of Provence, Catalonia, and Aragon, and the isles 
of Majorca and Granata and part of Spain, as far as the part opposite 
Seville, where it comes near to Africa, with only a small space of sea 
between. Then it turns to the right along the shore of the great outer 
ocean surrounding Spain, Castile, Portugal, and Galicia towards the north. 
It goes next by Navarre, Brittany, and Normandy, having opposite the 
island of Ireland, and then comes to Picardy, Flanders, and part of the 
kingdom of France, leaving to the north, beyond a narrow strip of sea, 
the island of England, called aforetime Great Britain, and the island of 
Ireland. Next going by Flanders towards the north-east it follows by 
Iceland, the whole of Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Saxony, and Swabia, 
turning towards Russia on the banks of the river Don aforesaid. And 
these are the boundaries of Europe. 

The aforesaid Atlas having fixed upon this spot as the best in all 
Europe, began to build the city of Fiesole under the direction of Apollo, 
who, as I have said already, had discovered by his astrologic art that 
this place excelled all the other parts of Europe in salubrity, for the reason 
that it stood in the middle point between the two seas which engirdle 
Italy, the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic. On account of these seas 
and of the mountains around, the wind blew plentifully and was purer 
and more wholesome than in any other part. Again, the stars which 
ruled the hill of Fiesole gave promise of every good fortune to the city, 
which indeed was founded under such an influence and configuration as 
caused the inhabitants thereof to be more richly gifted with gaiety and 
charm than those of any other part of Europe, and the higher men went up 
the hill, the better and purer they found the air. Inside the city was a 
bath, which was called the king's bath, which cured divers infirmities, 
the water of which came down in a conduit from the mountains above, 
and was very plentiful and of the best. Atlas caused the city to be 
fortified with the strongest of towers and the loftiest of walls, and on the 
summit of the hill he built a great and noble fortress, where he himself 
dwelt, as it is still manifest from the foundations thereof. 

Wherefore it was no wonder that the Romans gave up the leaguer of a 
city such as this. But Cassar remained there with his troops, and having 
cut off the supply of water, and destroyed the conduits, and brought the 
people to great straits, they made terms of surrender with him, and then 

Ho SER GIOVANNI. [day xi. 

the city was destroyed and razed even to its foundations. And when 
he had overthrown the place Caesar descended to the plain with his 
army to the spot near the Arno where Florinus and those with him had 
been slain, and there he began to build, in order that the men of Fiesole 
might not restore their own city. This city he desired to name 
Caesarea, after himself, but the Roman Senate forbade him, and gave 
orders that all those senators who had gone to the war with Fiesole 
should go and take part with Caesar in building the new city. The one 
who should finish his special work with the greatest despatch should be 
allowed to call the city after his own name. Macrinus, Albinus, Pompey, 
Gneius, and Martius went thither from Rome with workmen and plans, 
and, having agreed with Caesar, they made division of the various parts 
of the city in this wise : Albinus undertook to pave the city with large 
stones, and lately the workmen came upon some of the mortar he used 
when excavating in the quarter of San Piero Scheraggio, and near the 
door of the Duomo, where they still show what was a part of the old 
city. Macrinus caused to be built the conduits for fresh water, bringing 
it from a spot seven miles distant from the city. This conduit reached 
all the way from Monte Morello di Val di Marina, collecting all the 
springs of Quintus, of Sextus, and of Colonnata, and coming to an end 
in Florence at a certain palace which was called Termine d'Acque, or, 
as it is called in our day, Capancio, 1 which may now be seen in the Terma 
dell' Anticaglie. And you must know that the men of old drank of this 
spring water brought by the conduits because it was lighter and more 
healthful, and they drank little else except water because there were 
no vines in these parts. 

Pompey built the wall of bricks, with round stones above. Martius 
undertook to make a capitol on the pattern of that at Rome, and this 
work was of marvellous beauty, a palace or fortress which stood where 
the Mercato Vecchio now is. It came to pass that all these chiefs 
brought their tasks to an end at the same time ; wherefore not one of 
them could call the city after himself. At first they called it Little 
Rome, and then, on account of the death of Florinus, they changed its 
name to Floria, because it had been populated by the flower of Roman 
citizens. In the course of time it came to be called Florentia, and to-day 
it is Fiorenza ; moreover, it will hereafter be called Firenze, on account 
of the wickedness of its people. In sooth, it is no matter of wonder 
that a people descended from two strains of blood so vastly differing as 

1 Villani writes "Capaccio." This seems to have been a portion of Roman 
Florence, a tower standing at the south-west angle of the walls. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 141 

the Roman and the Fesulian should divide into hostile factions. Thus 
you have now heard how Florence came to be built, and the building 
aforesaid, according to the chronicles, took place seventy years before 
the coming of Christ." 


gjn tofiat fashion atttia obettfjreto tfje citg of ^Florence. 

HE last novel being finished, Saturnina said, <c Certes, the 
tale of the founding of Florence pleased me greatly, and now, 
since you have told me how it was built, I will tell you how 
Attila destroyed it. 
In the year of Christ four hundred and forty, when the Emperors 
Theodosius and Valentinian ruled the world, there was in the northern 
parts a king of the Goths called Attila. He was a barbarian, lawless 
and cruel in all his ways. He was born in the country of Sweden, and 
in his savage moods he had slain all his brethren, and now he set himselt 
to work the destruction of the Roman empire; wherefore, having 
assembled a vast army of the people of his country, he set the same in 
motion for the invasion of Italy, but in his march he found himself 
opposed both by the Romans and the Franks, who engaged him in a 
great battle at Friuli, and here so many men were slain that Attila was 
defeated, and retreated to his own land. Nevertheless, he was still set 
on the accomplishment of his design of overthrowing the empire ; 
so, having collected an army greater than the last, he marched with it 
into Italy, and laid siege to the city of Aquileia, before which he sat three 
years. After capturing it he destroyed it, and he did the like to Vicenza, 
Brescia, Bergamo, Milan, and to almost all the states of Lombardy except 
Modena. This city was saved by the merits of San Gimignano, for on 
account of his prayers Attila passed by the place without seeing it. 
He destroyed Bologna, making a martyr of San Procolo, the bishop of 
the city, and in like manner he ravaged the whole of Romagna. He 
then passed into Tuscany, where he found the city of Florence strong 
and powerful, and, taking thought that it had been built by the Romans 
and was their treasure house, and that in these same parts had fallen 
Radagasius, his predecessor, the king of the Goths, he ordered his army 
to begin the siege, which he carried on for some time in vain. Then, 
seeing that the city was not to be won by blockade, nor by assault, 

142 SER GIOVANNI. [day xi. 

because it was so strong and so well guarded, he resolved to get 
possession thereof by treachery. 

The Florentines were continually at war with the Pistoians ; where- 
fore Attila sent word that he desired to destroy the city of Pistoia, 
and, after he had exhibited these marks of friendship, and promised 
to confirm all their privileges, and made other large covenants, 
the Florentines under evil counsel put faith in his flattering deceit, 
and were ever after known as the blind Florentines. Thus they 
admitted him within the city with all his host, and lodged him in the 
great palace ; and one day, after he had gained entry to the city, he 
made show of summoning a great assembly, to which he bade come 
divers of the chief citizens, and, as they entered the palace one by 
one, he caused them all to be slain in a passage leading to the chamber, 
in such wise that no one knew of the fate of the rest. He cast them all 
into a great sewer, which discharged into the Arno and ran under the 
palace, in order that none might know of the deed, and in this wise he 
slew a vast number of citizens of whose death nought would have been 
known had it not been that the sewer began to cast forth so much blood 
that the river became crimson therewith. Then the people discovered 
the snare and treachery which Attila had worked, but they could do 
nought, for by this time he had armed all his following; and when the 
fact was bruited abroad he commanded his people to scour the city and 
to slay all the inhabitants, having respect neither to sex nor age. The 
people were massacred without making defence because they were 
unarmed and unprepared. 

In these days the city of Florence numbered more than ten thousand 
men, without reckoning old men and children, and whosoever of these 
could save themselves fled into the country round about, hiding in 
ditches and woods and caverns ; and after the massacre the city was 
given over to plunder, and burnt and destroyed with such barbarity 
that no one stone remained upon another, save and except a tower on 
the west side, which had been built by Pompey, and the northern gate, 
and the church of San Giovanni, which was then known as the temple 
of Mars. This church, in sooth, has never been overthrown, and never 
will, until the day of judgment, according to the words written on the 
floor thereof. In this manner the noble city of Florentia was destroyed, 
and the blessed Maurizio, the bishop of the city, slain. And you must 
know that the bishops of that time were not after the fashion of those 
of to-day, but were good and holy men. The body of this saint lies 
buried in the church of Santa Reparata. When Attila had completed 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 143 

the destruction of Florence, he went up to the hill of Fiesole and let 
rebuild the town, giving freedom to whomsoever might desire to settle 
there. Thus many of those who had sprung from Fiesole, as well as 
many of the Florentines, went thither, and in this wise the city of 
Fiesole was refurnished with walls and citizens, remaining as before an 
enemy to Rome. Afterwards Attila overthrew Pisa, Lucca, Volterra, 
and Arezzo, and ploughed their sites and sowed salt thereon ; he also 
destroyed Perugia and caused the blessed Erculano to be strangled, and 
overthrew divers towns in the Roman Campagna. By him many holy 
monks and hermits were sent to martyrdom ; he persecuted the Christians 
cruelly, and robbed and destroyed many churches and hospitals. 

At last he set out to overthrow Rome, but while he was at sea 
death seized him suddenly, and on that very same night when he died 
it was shown by a vision to Marcian the emperor, who was then in 
Greece, that the bow of Attila was broken, by which sign he understood 
that Attila had died that night. This Attila was the most cruel and 
powerful tyrant who ever lived, and on account of his barbarity he was 
called £ Attila flagellum Dei I and certes he proved to be the scourge of 
God for the humbling of the pride of other tyrants, and for the 
chastisement of the Italians on account of their sins, for at that time 
many were corrupted by the Arian heresy, which is opposed to the 
Christian faith, and tainted by many other sins hateful to God. And 
thus the divine power wrought just punishment upon these offenders 
by means of the barbarous tyrant aforesaid." 

When Saturnina had finished her novel, Auretto said/' This Attila 
was indeed a cruel man, and I trow that from his day till now there has 
not fallen so terrible a calamity upon Christendom. For this reason 
Attila was rightly called the scourge of God. And now I will sing you a 
canzonet, which I think you will find a pleasant one," and he sang as 
follows : 

Who feels the spark of love inflame his mind, 
Let him be wise if he his chance would find. 

Let us admit that it is hard to bear 

The cruel punishment Love gives his thrall. 

But he who would Love's perfect ensign wear, 
Must curb his will at joy's seductive call, 
And wear at last the victor's coronal ; 
Though now perforce he needs must lag behind. 

For ladies well advised are well content 

When foolish freaks of love are banished hence. 

144 SER GIOVANNI. [day xi. 

No man their humour knows. Nor just intent 
Can show them as they are, without pretence. 
But they, in that sweet hour of recompense, 
Will teach him all with gracious play and kind. 

Wherefore, ye lovers, in your service sweet, 

Waste not your time in aught but dalliance due, 

For he who serves in fashion right and meet, 
Will know how best to keep his service true. 
And let none else his inmost longing view, 
Save her to whom his future is consigned. 

Seek thou, my song, who 'neath Love's banners stand, 

Who know the paths where Love is wont to stray, 
And, if thou canst, be one of this same band ; 
For wise they are, and will not thee gainsay. 
Discourse to these of what thou hast to say, 
But pass him by who is not to thy mind. 

When the canzonet was ended the lovers full of love and ardour 
took one another by the hand, glancing at each other with sparkling 
eyes ; then they exchanged sweet kisses, and departed glad in their good 

Z\)t Ctoetftl) 2Dap* 


©fjarles t|)e <&reat comes to ftalg at tjje instance of $ope Etortan, anlt is 

maoe emperor. 

N the twelfth day the two lovers, having again met at 
the accustomed spot and greeted one another with 
great joy, Saturnina began and said, "Since we have 
begun to discourse on high and worthy themes, I will 
now tell you how Charles the Great, King of France, 
came to Italy at the suggestion of Pope Adrian, who 
was at that time sorely pressed by Constantine, the Greek Emperor, and 
Desiderius, King of the Lombards, and how Charles the Great was 
made emperor. 

Constantine, the son of Leo, the Emperor of Greece and Constan- 
tinople, had begun in Apulia to wage war with his forces against the 
Church, which was likewise attacked in Tuscany by Desiderius, the son 
of King Telofre ; and, being beset by foes on every side, Pope Adrian, 
who then ruled the Church, realized how heavy was the assault he had 
to bear ; wherefore he sent into France to Charles the Great, the son of 
King Pepin, to invite him into Italy in order that he might defend the 
Church from Desiderius and his followers. Charles the Great, as a 
devout son of the Church, therefore moved with a mighty army into 
Lombardy, where, after meeting Desiderius and his son in a fierce battle, 
he laid siege to the city of Pavia. This place he took by blockade, and 
he captured likewise Desiderius and his wife and children, except the 
eldest, and all his barons, and he made them take the oath of allegi- 
ance to Holy Church. He did the like to divers other cities of Italy, and 
finally sent Desiderius and his wife and children to France, where they 
died in prison ; and in this way Italy was delivered from the rule of 


146 SER GIOVANNI. [day mi. 

the Lombards, which had lasted two hundred and five years, by the aid 
of the Franks and of the good King Charles the Great, and henceforth 
they never came into Lombardy more. 

When Charles the Great had gained the victory aforesaid he betook 
himself to Rome, where he had most grateful welcome from Pope 
Adrian and the Roman people, being greeted with the highest honour 
and entertained with the most sumptuous feasts. As he drew anigh 
Rome he dismounted at Monte Mario and went on foot into the city, 
kissing the gates thereof with great reverence, and visiting the churches 
and enriching them all with gifts, and the Romans made him a citizen. 
And he ruled the states of the Church in Italy, giving freedom to all, 
and he overcame the forces of the Emperor of Constantinople, and of 
the King of the Lombards, and their followers. Having restored to 
the Church all that it enjoyed under King Pepin, and increased its 
possessions by adding thereto the duchies of Spoleto and Beneventum, 
he marched into Apulia, where he fought many battles and was the 
victor in all. As soon as he had put to flight or slain all those in rebel- 
lion against the Church, and given peace to the Church and to Italy 
as well, he set himself to attack the Saracens, who had settled in Provence, 
Navarre, and Spain, and with the help of his barons, to wit, the twelve 
paladins, he subdued these three provinces. It happened that in a 
certain city near the seashore, called Aries in Provence, the Saracens 
had collected all their forces to fight against Charles the Great, many 
Saracen nobles having come there, and news of this great gathering was 
brought to the emperor at Marseilles, which place he had taken after a 
battle in which he had fought with the greatest valour. Having 
marched with his army near to the city of Aries, and assembled all his 
barons, amongst whom were Count Orlando, Archbishop Turpin, Oliver 
of Bretagne, the Marquis Ogier, a Dane of Denmark, Duke Namo of 
Bavaria, Astolfo of England, and other lords, he thus addressed them : 
c My sons, I learn that the Saracens are here assembled to put their 
fortune to a final test; wherefore I request that each one of you will 
speak his counsel.' Then Count Orlando rose and said, ' Most reverend 
sovereign, albeit I am not worthy to reply in such a case, I will 
. nevertheless make answer for all these brothers of mine, your children 
who are here gathered together. To us it seems well to send with all 
boldness the gage of battle to these our foes, forasmuch as we have 
God and the right on our side — and if God be with us who can be against 
us — and that we shape the business with our swords as in days gone by.' 

Charles was filled with admiration at listening to the noble and 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 147 

courageous words spoken by Count Orlando, and said, c I fear that it 
may have been nought else than your earnest longing which has urged 
you to speak these words.' Then said Bishop Turpin, ( Sacred majesty, 
he has told you briefly the spirit that is in us far better than we our- 
selves could have told it ; wherefore let us now discuss together what he 
has said.' Then Charles the Great despatched to the Saracens the gage 
of battle, which they accepted with spirit ; and, when the day came upon 
which the issue of battle was to be tried, both of the armies set about 
the disposition of their squadrons with the utmost care. When the 
signal was given the ranks met forthwith, and began to deal and to 
receive the shrewdest blows, and on that field was fought one of the 
mightiest battles that Charles ever delivered, for a vast number of 
Christians fell there, and amongst them was Bishop Turpin and divers 
others of great valour. The battle lasted all day and well on into the 
night, and in the end the Saracens were defeated, so that the city fell into 
the hands of Charles. And when morning came he set to work to heal 
the wounds of the Christian warriors ; and because the dead Christians 
and Saracens were mingled confusedly, they could not tell one from the 
other, wherefore Charles prayed to God that of His grace He would let 
them know how to distinguish them, so as to allow the dead to be buried. 
Then God graciously let grow out of the mouth of each Christian a 
flower, while from the Saracens' mouths there sprang a thorn, by which 
sign they were able to know them. Moreover, that same morning they 
found ready prepared a hundred tombs of stone l wherein to bury the 
Christians, and this was duly done with the greatest pomp and honour. 
Amongst the slain they found the body of Bishop Turpin, who died for 
the Christian faith. And in this wise Charles drove the Saracens out of 
Provence and Navarre and Spain. 

Afterwards Charles sailed over the seas, at the request of Michael, 
the Emperor of Constantinople, and of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and 
conquered the Holy Land, which was then held by the King of the 
Saracens ; and when he returned to Constantinople the Emperor Michael 
desired to give him great treasures, but he would not touch the gold, and 
desired only to possess a piece of the wood of the Holy Cross of Christ, 
and one of the nails with which He was fastened to the same, and these 
he bore back with him to Paris. After he returned to Paris he ruled 
by his might and worthiness Italy, Provence, Navarre, and Spain, and 
it was through his benevolence that Florence was rebuilt. I now speak 

1 Dante {Inferno, ix.) alludes to the tombs about Aries, " Fanno i sepolcri tutto V loco 

148 SER GIOVANNI. [day xa. 

only of his bounty and virtue, what though it seems meet that I should 
tell you somewhat of his descendants until his line became extinct in the 
time of Hugh Capet, Duke of Orleans. After the death of Charles the 
Great his son Louis reigned as Emperor and King of France, and then 
his son Lothaire. And Charles the Bald was emperor two years; and 
Louis, the son of Louis, was King of Bavaria, and from that time forth 
the kingdom remained with his descendants. The next king was Louis 
the Stammerer, his son, but he had not the empire, which passed to 
Louis, the son of Lothaire. To this Louis the Stammerer were born, 
of different wives, two sons, Louis and Carloman, who ruled five years, 
and then died; whereupon the barons of France gave the crown to 
Charles the Fat, the Emperor, and son of Charles the Bald, who reigned 
as Emperor and King of France for five years. It was this Charles who 
made peace with the Normans, and alliance, and converted them to 
Christianity. Then he fell sick, both in mind and body, so that it was 
necessary to depose him, both from the empire and the kingdom. 

The barons of the empire chose as emperor Arnolfo, but he was not 
of the blood of Charles the Great, and from this time forth no emperor 
ruled in France. The next emperor was Otho, the son of Hubert, 
Count of Argenti, who was a good man and reigned nine years. But 
while he was in Gascony the barons made king of France Charles the 
Simple, son of Louis the Stammerer, of the direcl: royal line ; and when 
this news was brought to Otho, he passed from Gascony into France, 
and, having warred for five years, he died. This Charles the Simple 
reigned twenty-seven years, and during his lifetime a part of the French 
barons made king the son of the Otho aforesaid, who was named 
Rupert, whereupon many battles were fought, but in the end Rupert 
was defeated and slain by Charles the Simple. After this Charles was 
taken by a certain Rupert who was of the lineage of Otho, and he was 
kept in prison so long that he died ; whereupon his wife passed over into 
England, as she was the sister of the king of that country, and she took 
with her her young son, whose name was Louis. The barons chose as 
king Ridolfo, son of the Duke of Burgundy, who reigned two years 
and then died. On this account the barons of France sent into England 
for the young Louis, son of Charles the Simple, and made him King of 
France. This Louis reigned twenty-seven years, and had to wife the 
sister of Otho, the German Emperor, and begat two sons, Lothaire and 
Charles, and was afterwards captured at Lyons on the Rhone by Hugh 
the Great, who was his enemy. When this was told to the Emperor 
Otho he entered France with a great army, and, having taken the city 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 149 

of Lyons and delivered Louis his kinsman from prison, he next laid 
siege to Paris, which was occupied by Hugh the Great. He surrendered 
to Otho, and, peace having been made between them, King Louis was 
restored to his sovereignty. 

After the death of Louis, Lothaire his son became king, and he 
reigned thirty-one years. He warred against Otho his cousin, but 
peace was made at last, and after his death his son, who was also called 
Lothaire, mounted the throne, and he reigned one year and died without 
heirs. And then the barons of France chose for their king Hugh 
Capet, Duke of Orleans, in the year of Christ 990. The good race 
of Charles the Great now ceased, the lineage of King Pepin, the 
father of Charles the Great, having reigned 236 years. And it came 
to pass that when the aforesaid Charles the Great returned from over 
seas, as it has been already related, and when he had made himself lord 
of Italy, Provence, Navarre, and Spain, the pestilent Romans, together 
with the Tuscans and Lombards, revolted from the Church and seized 
Pope Leo III. what time he was making a procession, and, having 
blinded him and cut off his hands, they drove him out. But he, being 
a holy and blameless man, by God's pleasure recovered his sight, and 
betook himself to France to entreat Charles the Great to march into Italy 
and restore to the Church her liberties. Then the emperor and the pope 
went to Rome and re-established the Church, and restored to the pope 
his dominions and liberty, working vengeance upon those who had 
overturned the states of the Church. 

Now because Charles the Great had wrought such great service to the 
Church, and given peace to wellnigh the whole of Christendom, the 
pope and all the cardinals and the Roman people deprived the eastern 
emperor of the sovereignty of Rome and Constantinople and Greece, 
and by a decree conferred the empire upon Charles the Great, King of 
France, as the man most worthy of the dignity. He was consecrated 
and crowned on the morning of Easter Day, and he reigned as emperor 
fourteen years, ten months, and four days, ruling the whole Empire of the 
West and the provinces before mentioned, and even the empire of Con- 
stantinople was under obedience to him. He built as many abbeys as 
there are letters in the alphabet, letting the name of each one begin with 
its own letter. Thus he lived a holy, perfect, and excellent life, and 
did much for the increase of the Church of God and of Christianity. 
He lived seventy-two years, and many signs and tokens appeared 
before his death ; moreover, he left great wealth for the foundation of 
churches and hospitals, and other religious places." 

150 SER GIOVANNI. [day xh. 


€f)e $tsang tnbato Jftajorca anto tfje dFlownttnes sen* a guartr for ttjetr citg. 
0n tofjat toag tfjeg torn tepitrti tfjerefor. 

HEN Saturnina had finished her novel Auretto said, " I 
am minded to tell you how the republic of Pisa invaded 
Majorca, and how the Florentines protected Pisa for them, 
and what reward they reaped for their services. 
In those days, when the Pisans were wellnigh the masters of our 
seas, they determined to make a descent upon Majorca, which was 
occupied by the Saracens, and having settled upon this expedition 
they collected in haste their whole force of ships, galleys, and other 
craft, and set in order a fine fleet. When this was furnished with 
all necessary stores they set sail ; but, before the fleet had gone beyond 
Vada, the people of Lucca, knowing that none were left in Pisa save old 
men and women and children, sent an army to seize the city. The 
Pisans, hearing of the invasion from Lucca, went back with their fleet, 
through fear of losing their city, and the people of Lucca, when they 
heard how the Pisans had returned, retreated homeward. But the Pisans, 
having raised their force for the attack on Majorca, and spent much 
treasure over the same, took this as a great scandal, and resolved to send 
word to the Florentines and beg them to protect Pisa for them until 
they should have returned. An embassy was sent, and the Florentines, 
as benevolent neighbours, despatched a large force ; whereupon the 
Pisans set sail. The Florentines encamped some two miles outside 
Pisa, and the commander gave orders that no one should enter the city 
under the pain of hanging, save where the honour of a lady might be in 

It happened that a son of the commander, being a passionate youth, 
heard tell of a Pisan lady of surpassing beauty, and fell in love with her 
through hearing of her beauty, without ever having seen her. He set 
his heart on beholding her, and, without farther ado, he went into Pisa 
one feast day and got sight of her, and then returned to the camp, with- 
out having been guilty of an unseemly word or deed. When his father 
heard that he had been to Pisa, he caused him to be seized, and then 
inquired of him whether he had entered the city, and the youth replied 
that he had, but that he had neither done nor said aught unbecoming, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 151 

but his father cast him into prison and let prepare for his execution. 
When the old folk who were left in Pisa heard thereof, they went out 
to the camp, and begged the father that he would mercifully consider 
the age of the ill-fated youth ; but he, for that his son had disobeyed 
his orders, would not listen to their prayers. The mother, having learned 
the doom given by the father upon the son, besought him by letter that 
he would not rob her, who had no hope of further offspring, of her only 
son ; but her husband, regarding not the prayer of his wife or of the 
others, got ready for the execution of his son. The Pisans, however, 
made a protest, saying they were loth that such a deed should be 
wrought upon their soil, and on this account the commander bought 
from a peasant a patch of ground, upon which he erected a gibbet, and 
hanged his son thereon, doing this to serve as an example to his other 
men, so that the Pisans should have no cause to complain of the 

And in this manner the Florentines guarded the city until the Pisans 
returned victorious from Majorca, and in token of their success they 
brought back two columns of porphyry, which were endowed with such 
virtue that, if anyone should have lost aught of his goods, he would 
behold the thief with the thing stolen in his hand if he should stand by the 
columns aforesaid. Likewise they brought back a door inlaid with metal. 
The Pisans, when they returned, laid their prizes before the Florentines 
in order that they might choose one or the other, either the columns or 
the door. The Florentines took the columns ; 1 whereupon the Pisans 
out of envy marred their beauty with fire and smoke, and destroyed 
their brightness, wrapping them the while with scarlet cloth. And this 
was the recompense which the Pisans made to the Florentines for the 
guard which they had kept over their city. The Florentines were 
greatly offended by the trick ; nevertheless, this was not the beginning 
of the ill will which reigned between the communes of Florence and 
Pisa. 2 This first discord arose in the year of Christ 1 2 20, when the 
Emperor Frederic II. and the Empress Costanza were crowned at 
Rome by Pope Honorius III. with the most splendid pomp and 
feasting. It was on the day of St. Cecilia, and all the communes of 

1 " Le dette colonne sono quelle che sono koggi diritte dinanzi alia porta di San Giovanni 
al Duomo." — Gio. Villani, iv. 30. 

2 This flout may have been the origin of the popular proverb, " Fiorentini ciecki, 
Pisani traditoriP Boccaccio repeats this story with variations, but refuses to consider 
the source of the aforesaid proverb. Ser Giovanni, Day XI., Novel 2, traces it to 
Florentine credulity as to Attila's promises. 

152 SER GIOVANNI. [day xii. 

Italy sent thither ambassadors to do honour to the emperor. Now 
the Florentines, and the Pisans as well, sent embassies to Rome, and 
it chanced that there was then living in the palace of the Annibali 
a very worthy cardinal, named Messer Pantaleone, who invited to 
dinner the Florentine ambassador. The cardinal had a very beautiful 
little French house-dog, which the ambassador begged as a gift, and the 
cardinal straightway gave it to him. The next morning he invited the 
Pisan ambassador, who in like manner asked for the dog, and the car- 
dinal, forgetting that he had already given it away, gave it to him. The 
following day the Florentine sent for the dog, which the cardinal handed 
over, and afterwards the Pisan also sent for the same, and, when he 
learnt how the Florentine had already got it, he was mightily angered 

One day, when they were riding for their pleasure, the two ambas- 
sadors met, whereupon they exchanged many unseemly and shameful 
words on the score of the dog aforesaid, and from words they came to 
deeds, in which the Florentine was worsted, for the Pisan had with him 
an armed band. But the Florentine called together all his fellow-citizens 
who were then at the court of the emperor and the pope, and, having 
fallen upon the Pisans, brought great loss and dishonour upon them ; 
whereupon the Pisans wrote home and told how they had been used. 
Then the commune of Pisa forthwith seized and detained all the wares 
belonging to the Florentines — and they were many and rich — which 
were then in Pisa, and the commune of Florence sent again and again to 
Pisa, begging that the merchandise might be given free passage, and 
recounting the service which Florence had done to Pisa in times past. 
The Pisans excused themselves by saying that the goods aforesaid had 
been mislaid, and they could not take the trouble to find them ; to which 
the Florentines replied, c If you will not restore them to us, we will see 
whether we cannot regain them sword in hand, even though you were ten 
times the masters of sea and land that you are.' The Pisans sent answer 
that if they should ever hear tidings of such attempt on the part of the 
Florentines, they would cut them off forthwith. 

Then the commune of Florence, perceiving in what manner it was 
Deing insulted by Pisa, set in motion a large force, and led the attack 
against that city; whereupon the Pisans advanced to meet their foes, 
showing all the courage of which they had boasted. They met at 
Castel del Bosco, and engaged, and fought a most determined battle ; 
but in the end the Pisans were overthrown, with the capture of one 
thousand three hundred of the stoutest citizens ; and thus the pride of 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 153 

the Pisans was beaten down. Now you have heard tell how the discords 
between the Pisans and the Florentines began, and who had to bear the 
blame of stirring up the same. Nevertheless, it seems to me that in every 
war the Florentines have been in the wrong, and have been worsted as 
well. The thing done commends the end, for the Florentines are still 
subject to the spite of their foes." 

When Auretto had brought his novel to an end, Saturnina sang the 
following canzonet : 

He who knows love, and has a heart of gold, 
Will never lose his way, or leave the fold. 

And should he find upon his lady's face 

Some glance or mood which leaves him ill-content, 

Despair he will not, nor hold back his pace, 
But like a hero bear his punishment, 
And rule his life with fitting argument, 
As love may will — cast down, abashed, or bold. 

And whosoever will Love's do&rine learn 
Must have a heart resigned to suffer ill ; 
Nor must he at each trifle faint and turn, 
But ever haste to do his lady's will. 
Thus he who surfers shall his course fulfil, 
And flowery garland shall his brow enfold. 

What though you call him rash who stakes his bene 

Upon the humour of a lady's eyes, 
Still he will 'scape the snare that lurks unseen 

Who keeps his mind from subterfuge and lies ; 

His lady, too, will give in gracious wise 
Her heart and life into her lover's hold. 

Go now, my song, to Love, who is my lord, 

And careful be his precepts to obey, 
And let this message be proclaimed abroad, 

"All lovers now their dames due service pay;" 

For ladies wise and prudent are alway, 
And grace and light divine their hearts enfold. 

When the song was finished, the two lovers clasped each other by 
the hand, and exchanging their words of gratitude, they bade farewell 
in gracious fashion, and each one departed, God speeding. 

CJ)e &J)trteentl) Dap. 


i^oto tty parties or* ti)e i&ert atrtr ttje iStancfjt first arose. 

S soon as the two lovers had come back to their wonted 
meeting-place on the thirteenth day Auretto said : <f I 
desire to-day to tell you the origin of the parties of the 
Neri and the Bianchi," and thus he began : 

cc In the days when Pistoia was a city of note, there 
dwelt therein a noble family, the Cancellieri, who were 
descended from a certain Messer Cancelliere who had dealt in mer- 
chandise, and made no small gain by traffic. This gentleman had left 
by his two wives divers sons, all of whom by reason of their wealth 
were cavaliers, worthy and excellent gentlemen, high-minded and cour- 
teous in every respect. The family grew so fast that in a short time 
it numbered more than a hundred men-at-arms ; and in this family, 
which was more powerful in wealth and numbers than any other in the 
country round, there arose, by reason of a certain waiting-maid, 1 who 
in sooth was very fair and charming, an ill-starred quarrel in words and 
in hurtful blows as well. On this account they were divided into two 
parties, the one called the Cancellieri Bianchi, who took descent from the 
first wife, and the other the Cancellieri Neri, who were sprung from the 
second. After these factions had met in a fight in which the whites had 
overcome the blacks, the victors, desiring to let the occasion be one of 
healing the feud, sent the person through whom the strife had first 
arisen to beseech mercy and pardon from the Neri, who had been made 
to suffer wrong from his deed, in the hope that this act of humiliation 
would win kindly response. 

1 Orig., "per una fantesca, che era assai bella e graziosa." Neither Villani nor 
Macchiavelli makes mention of the fantesca. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 155 

Wherefore this man who had wrought the offence, having made his 
way into the presence of the injured party, knelt down humbly and 
besought pardon for the love of God, begging that they would wreak 
upon his person whatever vengeance they would. Then certain of the 
younger members of the injured party took the man, and, having led 
him into a stable, said to him, c Stretch forth thy right hand ; ' whereupon 
he, quaking with fear, cried out, c I beg you to show me pity, forasmuch 
as you cannot wreak greater vengeance on me than by refraining from 
punishing me when you have power to do what you will.' Then they 
laid his hand by force upon a manger and struck it off. This deed 
caused great commotion in Pistoia, and the party of the Neri was 
greatly censured thereanent ; and by this means all Pistoia was divided 
into two parts, the one faction holding with the Neri and the other with 
the Bianchi, and divers fights took place between them. The citizens, 
fearing lest these aforesaid might stir up a rebellion in the land, with 
respect to the Guelf party, referred the matter to the Florentines in 
order that they might make peace. Then the Florentines seized the 
country, and caused the parties aforesaid to remove to the confines of 
Florence ; and there the Neri found shelter in the houses of the Fresco- 
baldi, and the Bianchi in those of the Cerchi nel Garbo, 1 on account of 
the kinship between them. As soon as this accursed seed was sown in 
Florence the city was divided into two factions, one portion of the citizens 
adhering to the Neri and the other to the Bianchi. The Cerchi were the 
chiefs of the Bianchi and the Donati of the Neri, and the seed of dis- 
cord was multiplied in Florence so vastly that again and again strife 
was stirred up thereanent, and much waste and ruin made, whereas for 
a long time before this peace and quiet had reigned. 

It came to the hearing of Pope Boniface how Florence was being 
devastated by faction ; so he sent the Cardinal of Acquasparta 2 to compose 
the feud, and the cardinal aforesaid did what he could, but this, in 
sooth, was nought. Not being able to heal the discords, he departed, 
leaving the city under an interdict, and Florence, being in such perilous 
case, was all day under arms. Messer Corso Donati, with the Spini 
and the Pazzi, the Tosinghi and the Cavicciulli, and their citizen 
adherents of the Neri, sent word to Pope Boniface, the commanders agree- 
ing thereto, begging him to send some high personage to the court of 

1 Dante {Inferno, vi.) calls the Bianchi " la parte selvaggia" because these Cerchi 
came from the forest lands of Val di Sieve. 

2 This episode is described in Day XXII., Novel 2, where the peacemaker is called 
the Cardinal of Prato. 

156 SER GIOVANNI. [day xih. 

France to ask for the despatch of a force which should establish them 
in power, and beat down the Bianchi, and to give whatsoever aid was 
possible. As soon as this was known Messer Corso Donati and divers 
other leaders of the party were declared outlaws, as to their persons and 
estates. They were fined a large sum of money, and when they had paid 
this they were conducted to the frontier. Messer Corso Donati betook 
himself to Rome, and used such persuasion with Boniface that the pon- 
tiff sent word into France to Messer Charles of Valois, the king's 
brother, to whom he made known his intention of making him King of 
the Romans, that is, Emperor. Induced by these promises Charles 
invaded Italy and reinstated Messer Corso and the Neri in Florence, 
thereby giving cause for manifold evils in the future, forasmuch as 
the entire party of the Bianchi, whose power was now crippled, were 
plundered of all their wealth. Then Charles became the foe of Pope 
Boniface, and was ultimately the cause of his death, for the pope, who 
had promised to make him emperor, kept not his word ; wherefore it 
might be said that this accursed seed of discord brought the most fatal 
calamities upon Florence and Pistoia and all the other states of Tus- 
cany, and furthermore led to the death of Pope Boniface VIII." 


i&oto $ope OMestme renounce* ttje papacg. 

[HEN Auretto's novel had come to an end Saturnina began 
and said, " I am now minded to tell you a story with which 
you will surely be pleased," and she spake as follows : 
" At the time when the papacy was vacant through the 
death of Pope Nicolas of Ascoli, a space of two years elapsed without 
any election owing to the quarrels of the cardinals, who were sharply 
divided, each one of the factions wishing to name as pope one of its 
members. It happened that the cardinals assembled in Perugia were 
sharply pressed by the citizens to elect a pope, when at last, by God's 
will, they agreed to elect someone not of the college, but a certain 
holy man, one Pietro del Murrone of the Abruzzi. This man was a 
hermit who followed the most ascetic rule of life, and, to better renounce 
the vanity of the world, had abandoned the monastery which he had 
founded, and gone to live a life of penitence in the mountains of 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 157 

Murrone above Sulmona. After his election and coronation he took 
the name of Celestine, and, by the advice of King Charles of Sicily he 
created forthwith twelve cardinals, the greater part of them from beyond 
the mountains. Afterwards he went with his court to Naples, where 
he was received by King Charles with much reverence and devotion. 
But for the reason that he was an unlearned man of simple life, 
troubling nought about the pomps of the world, the cardinals took 
small account of him, and began to suspect that they had done no good 
service to the Church by the election of such a pope ; wherefore, when 
the Holy Father heard report of this discontent, he, feeling distrust of his 
power to rule the Church, and rather prone to serve God than to take 
part in worldly splendour, sought by some means or other to renounce 
the papacy. 

Among the cardinals there was a certain one named Messer 
Benedetto Gaietani d'Alagna, a man of counsel, and of vast experience 
in temporal affairs. He desired greatly to attain the papal dignity, and 
with this design he had tried to procure the same from King Charles, 
and had indeed got promise of his support already. This cardinal 
went to the pope, knowing that he would fain be rid of his dignity, 
and advised him to publish a decree setting forth that every pope 
might for the good of his soul renounce the papacy. He moreover 
put before Celestine the example of St. Clement, whom St. Peter, 
when dying, had named as his successor; but St. Clement, for the 
good of his soul, would not take the succession, and before him came 
St. Linus and St. Cletus, and then Clement became pope. And 
according to the advice of the cardinal aforesaid Pope Celestine issued 
the decree, and then, having assembled a consistory of all the cardinals, 
made a declaration, and in their presence divested himself of the tiara 
and the papal robe and renounced the papacy. 

But there are many who affirm that the cardinal aforesaid went one 
night by stealth to the head of the pope's bed with a trumpet, upon 
which he sounded three blasts ; whereupon the pope said to him, • Who 
art thou ? ' The cardinal who bore the trumpet replied, c I am the angel 
of God, sent by Him to thee, His most devoted servant, and I declare to 
thee on His behalf that it behoves thee to have care for thy immortal 
soul rather than for the pomps of the world ;' and then he departed. 
After this Pope Celestine had no rest till he should renounce his office, 
and, this done, he left the court, and once more became a hermit and 
did penance without ceasing. Thus Celestine was pope for the space 
of five months and eight days, and his successor was Messer Benedetto 

158 SER GIOVANNI. [day xm. 

Gaietani, who was known afterwards as Pope Boniface VIII. 1 There 
was furthermore a saying that Pope Boniface caused Celestine to 
be seized in the mountains of Santo Agnolo in Apulia above Ostia, 
where he had retired to perform his penance, and cast him into prison 
in the mountains of Sulmona, where he was afterwards put to death, so 
that he might not by his living presence stand in the way of the election 
of Boniface; forasmuch as many Christians held Celestine to be the 
rightful pope, notwithstanding the renunciation he had made, main- 
taining that a dignity so high as the papacy could not be shaken off by 
any decree whatsoever, but that he who might once be made pope 
must needs remain pope to the end of his days, and on account of this 
contention Pope Boniface compassed Celestine's death. After his 
death God is said to have shown many miracles through him ; and, so 
greatly did the fame of his saintly life increase, in the time of Pope John 
XXII. he was canonized under the style of San Pietro del Murrone." 

At the close of the story Auretto said, " This novel, certes, is one 
full of interest, and now I will sing you my canzonet." And he sang 
as follows : 

Lady, shall I find ever peace from strife, 
I who love thee far dearer than my life ? 

Thou canst alone restore the mood serene 

To that one faithful heart so true and warm ; 

So fold him close within thy loving arm, 
Him who will serve thee as his fancy's queen. 
Let not love go while yet thy spring is green ; 

Use well thy lusty hour, ere time grows late ; 

For happy shall they be, and fortunate, 
Who in their youth the slaves of Love have been. 

1 The episode of the trumpet is not found in Villani, but Boccaccio in his Comento 
on Dante recounts it. Gower, in Confessio Amantis, bk. ii., writes : 

" This clerk when he had heard the form, 
How he the pope shuld enform, 
Toke of the cardinal his leve 
And goth him home, til it was eve, 
And prively the trompe he hadde 
Til that the pope was abedde. 
And at midnight when he knewe 
The pope slepte, than he blewe 
Within his trompe through the wall 
And told in what maner he shall 
His papacie leve and take 
His first estate." 

novel h.] SER GIOVANNI. 159 

On what pretext canst thou withhold thy heart 

From him who is thy slave obedient ? 
Who feels within his breast the burning smart 

Of fires which nor by day nor night are spent. 

Love will not bide with cruelty for mate, 

Nor show his power to souls that are unkind. 
He seeks the tender heart and gentle mind 

Which he may with his fire irradiate. 

Thus doth he make his grace and sweetness plain 
To me, thy slave, and holds me in his chain. 

My song, to that bright star now wing thy way, 

The star I love, and for my ensign take. 
Then, in thy courteous fashion, thou shalt say 

How passion plague my being doth unmake, 
And ask her if my soul must pine alway, 

In woe unspeakable, for her sweet sake. 

As soon as the song was finished the two lovers brought their 
pleasant discourse to an end for that day. Then they took one another 
by the hand, and each departed. 

Ci)e ifourteenti) SDap* 


after GMesttne, Boniface tfie lEtgfitfi toaa elected pope. (ftertam of tfie great 
oeeos fie torougfit During fits papacy, antr fioto fie met fits fceatfi at tfie fianto 
of tfie l&tng of dFrance. 1 

N the fourteenth day the happy lovers went once more 
to their wonted place of meeting, and then Saturnina 
said, " I will tell you to-day how Pope Boniface was 
elected, and of some of the great things he did while 
he was pope, and how the King of France, in the end, 
was the cause of his death. 
After the Cardinal Messer Benedetto Gaietani d'Alagna had, by his 
cunning persuasion, induced Pope Celestine to lay down the papacy, he 
made so great interest with Charles, King of Sicily, who was then at 
Naples, that he was elected pope by the votes of the twelve cardinals 
whom Pope Celestine had created at the instance of the king aforesaid. 
As soon as he was elected pope he left Naples for Rome, where he was 
crowned, and after the ceremony he took the name of Boniface. He 
sent a legate into France to make peace between the King of France and 
the Flemings, and at the same time found himself embroiled with the 
chiefs of the Colonnas at Rome, for these had thwarted him in divers 
affairs, and especially by the opposition which Messer Jacopo and Messer 
Piero Colonna, who were cardinals, had shown to his election. Where- 
fore he thought of nought else than how he might work their undoing. 
And it came to pass that, after the papal court had declared its hostility 
to his house, Sciarra Colonna, the nephew of the aforesaid cardinals, 
seized upon a certain treasure of the Church ; whereupon the pope pursued 

1 Philip the Fair. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 161 

the whole of the Colonnas by the law, and deprived the two cardinals 
of their hats and all their honours. He took away from all other 
members of the house, lay and clerical alike, their temporal and spiritual 
offices, at the same time destroying their palaces and houses in the city. 
Thereupon they declared war against the pope, for they were very 
powerful through the possession of the city of Palestrina, and Nepi, and 
Colonna, and many other strong towns. 

On this account the pope granted remission of sins, and of penance 
likewise, to all those who would join the crusade against the Colonnas, 
and he let gather an army before the city of Nepi. The commune of 
Florence sent six thousand well-armed men, and the host there assembled 
was so mighty that the city surrendered itself to the pope ; but great 
numbers of the soldiers sickened and died by reason of the unhealthy 
air, wherefore they made enemies of the people of the country, who drove 
them out of the district. In the year of Christ 1300 the pope desired 
to celebrate the jubilee with all faithful Christians, and he did this in the 
following wise. He ordained that every Roman citizen, male or female, 
who during the year aforesaid should visit for thirty days in succession the 
churches of the blessed apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and any person, 
not being a Roman, who should do the same for fifteen days, should be 
granted complete absolution of all sins, if they should confess, or be in 
the mind to confess. Moreover, he exhibited every Friday and every 
solemn festival the holy winding-sheet of Christ, which was in St. 
Peter's ; and on this account the greater part of the Christians then alive 
made a pilgrimage, which was the most marvellous thing that ever was 
seen; for that there were continuously in Rome, over and beyond the 
Roman people, two hundred thousand pilgrims, in addition to those who 
were on the road going and coming. All men were orderly, and duly 
provided with victuals both for man and beast, and strife and uproar 
were unknown. 1 

This pope in the course of his life wrought many noteworthy deeds, 
and was well disposed towards the commune of Florence, especially 
towards those who belonged to the Guelf party. Though he himself 
sprang from a Ghibelline house, he became a Guelf when he was 
elected pope, and did many things in the interest of the Guelf party. 
At the instance of the Guelfs of Florence he sent into France for 
Messer Charles, the Count of Valois and brother of the King of France, 
promising to make him King of the Romans, that is to say, to put him 

1 This was the Great Jubilee referred to by Dante, Inf., xviii., Purg. ii 


1 62 SER GIOVANNI. [day xiv. 

in possession of the Empire. On this account Charles set forth and came 
to Rome with five thousand cavaliers of France, and many counts and 
barons ; then he went into Tuscany and restored to its estates the Guelf 
party which had been driven out, and lastly he marched into Apulia at 
the pope's request, where he did many deeds in the interest of the 
Church. After this it came to pass that Charles went back to France 
to take part in the war which the king his brother was waging against 
the Flemings, the French having been severely worsted. The pope was 
sorely wroth with him on this account, and did not find him to be the 
high-hearted and courageous prince he could have wished ; wherefore he 
confirmed Albert of Austria as King of the Romans. For this reason 
the King of France held himself to have been grossly tricked and duped 
by the pope, and out of spite forthwith began to treat with great 
honour Messer Stefano Colonna, the foe of Boniface. Moreover, he 
seized the Bishop of Paluta, and enjoyed the revenues of every vacant 
bishopric, and confiscated its estates ; so the pope, who was proud and 
resentful, and burning to make his mark in the world as a courageous 
and powerful prince, was no sooner informed of the spiteful dealing of 
his foes than he stirred up malice and ill-will everywhere, and allied 
himself with all the foes of the King of France. To begin, in order to 
justify his contention, he sent word to all the prelates of France that 
they must repair to his court, but the king forbade them and would not 
let them go; wherefore the pope was wroth exceedingly against the 
king, and brought forward arguments and decrees to prove that the 
King of France, as well as all other Christian kings, was bound to 
recognize the apostolic see as over-lord both in temporal and in 
spiritual affairs; and this saying he caused to be proclaimed even in 
France. The king treated in evil and shameful wise the messenger who 
bore the letter, and on this account the pope excommunicated him. 
Then the king, to show cause for his view, summoned to Paris a great 
gathering of the clergy, to which came the prelates and all the barons 
of the kingdom, and he both excused himself, and brought against the 
pope divers slanders, and articles in which he accused him of simony and 
heresy and homicide and numberless other offences, alleging that he 
ought to be deposed. In this way there sprang up between the pope 
and the King of France that feud which came to such an evil issue ; 
and in the course of this quarrel every member of either party was 
fain to work the ruin of his foe on the other side. 

The pope attacked the King of France by excommunication, so as 
to drive him from his kingdom ; and with this end in view he showed 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 163 

favour to the rebellious Flemings, and was eager that King Albert 
should come to Rome to be blessed by him as emperor, in order that he 
might snatch away the empire from Charles, albeit he was the ally of 
the papacy, and stir up a war against the King of France upon the 
German frontier. King Philip, on his part, did not sleep; but, after 
much deliberation and counsel taken with Stefano Colonna and others 
of his nobles, he sent into Tuscany Messer Gilio di Langreto of 
Provence, a clear-headed man, and Messer Musciatto, a Frenchman, 
well supplied with money, and they arrived at the castle of Staggia, 
which belonged to Messer Musciatto, and there they abode some days, 
sending out messages and letters, and letting come to them divers persons 
with whom they desired to speak privily. To the people round about 
they made believe that they had come there to treat for peace between 
the pope and the King of France ; but under pretence of negotiating they 
were plotting how they might seize the person of the pope, scattering 
money freely and corrupting the nobles of the land and the citizens of 
Alagna. The pope knew nought of these intrigues, nor did he take 
any care of himself, and if, in sooth, he had known aught, he would 
not, by reason of his great courage, have taken any heed thereof; which 
thing, peradventure, was ordained by God's will by reason of the 
grievous sins of the pope. Sciarra Colonna, with his three hundred 
horse and foot, and the forces of Scappino and of the other barons of 
the Campagna, and those of the sons of Messer Matteo d' Alagna, and 
of the faction of the cardinals who were privy to the plot, entered 
Alagna early one morning with the ensigns and banners of the King of 
France, crying, ' Long live France ! ' and overran the whole of the 
district without opposition ; thus almost all the people joined the rebel 
standard. Having come to the palace they fell upon the pope, and 
seized him without meeting any resistance, forasmuch as the assault 
came unexpectedly upon the pope and his followers, who kept no 

As soon as the pope heard the uproar, and saw how he was forsaken 
by all those about him — for the cardinals had fled and concealed them- 
selves through fear — and that his foes had seized the country and the 
castle where he abode, he gave himself up for dead ; but with his bravery 
and stout-heartedness he cried out, f By such treachery Christ willed to 
be taken, and it seems that I am to fare in like fashion ; so, if I must 
die, I will die as a pope should.' Whereupon he clothed himself with 
the mantle of St. Peter, and set the crown of Constantine upon his 
head, and took the keys and the cross in his hand, and seated himself 

1 64 SER GIOVANNI. [day xiv. 

upon the papal chair. Then Sciarra and certain others of his foes 
approached him, mocking him with abusive words, and they laid him in 
hold, and all those of his household who had remained with him. But 
by the will of God, who would not that the papal dignity should suffer 
outrage, no one dared to lay hands on him, but they left him arrayed as 
he was, under easy restraint, and betook, themselves to plunder. The 
pope remained for three days overwhelmed with grief and shame ; but as 
on the third day Christ rose again, it pleased God that his vicar should 
be delivered in like manner ; wherefore, without being urged on by 
entreaties, but moved only by the divine power, the people of Alagna 
were advised of their error, and rose in arms, crying, * Long live the pope 
and death to the traitors ! ' They scoured the country and drove away 
Sciarra Colonna and his band, killing and capturing divers of the same, 
and set the pope and his household at liberty. The pope, though he 
was now free and his foes driven away, did not regain his spirit, for he 
had fully realized in his mind the anguish of his present misfortune ; 
so he set forth at once with his court from Alagna, and returned to St. 
Peter's in Rome, to hold a council, to let men know of the affronts 
which had been put upon him, as well as to avenge himself upon the 
King of France and all others who had outraged him. 

But through God's pleasure, and through the grief which he 
nursed in his heart on account of the shameful usage he had received, a 
distemper attacked him as soon as he arrived at Rome, and he chafed 
with rage like one mad, and in this wise the high-souled and intrepid 
Pope Boniface passed out of this life. This event took place in the 
year 1303, on the twelfth day of October, and the pope was buried 
with great pomp in a chapel at the entrance of St. Peter's Church, 
which he had caused to be made during his lifetime. This pope 
was well versed in the Scriptures and of high intellect, a man of great 
forethought and experience, of vast knowledge and memory. He was of 
the haughtiest and proudest spirit towards his foes, indomitable, and a 
source of dread to men of all kinds. He raised and exalted the dominion 
and authority of the Church, and he made the cardinals, Messer Gilio da 
Bergamo and Messer Ricciardo da Siena and Messer Dino Rossino di 
Mugello, the chief masters of laws and decretals ; and, together with 
the aforesaid, he, who was himself a most skilled decretalist and master 
in divinity, composed the six books of the decretals, which are in sooth 
the source of light for all books and decrees. He was generous to all 
those who pleased him, provided they were persons of worth, and greatly 
inclined to the pomps of the world. He was according to his position 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 165 

very rich, neither finding nor making any scruples for gathering wealth 
for the exaltation of the Church and of his nephews. In his time 
he conferred the cardinal's hat upon many who were his friends and 
associates, and amongst these were two of his nephews, very young men, 
and a half-brother on his mother's side. Many of his kinsmen of the 
little city of Alagna he made bishops and archbishops. Certain of his 
nephews he made counts, and left to them great riches ; and, after his 
death, they showed themselves stout warriors, and wrought great 
vengeance upon the foes who had betrayed the late pope, spending 
freely, and maintaining at their own charges three hundred Catalan 
horsemen. With their force they dominated all the Campagna of 
Rome, and if the pope had been alive, and had seen what doughty men- 
at-arms they were, he would assuredly have made them great lords of 

It should likewise be told that, by reason of the offences wrought 
by the King of France in this affair, his sons were all disinherited. 
There is no need to marvel at this manifestation of God's will, for 
the pope was more worldly than was becoming to one in his position, 
and he wrought many things displeasing to God, so that God compassed 
his death by the methods aforewritten. Moreover, God punished the 
King of France, the transgressor, not so much for the offence against 
the person of the pope, as for that against the divine majesty, the 
earthly manifestation of which is found in the pope himself." 


i^oto it came to pass tfjat tfie court of t&ome crosseo obet tfjc aipa ano settled 

at &btgnon. 

S soon as the last novel was ended Auretto began and said, 
"I will now tell you how and why the court of Rome 
crossed over the Alps and found a home in Avignon. 

On the death of Pope Boniface the college of cardinals 
ele&ed Benedict XI., a member of the preaching friars and a Trevisan. 
He was of very low origin and had no kinsfolk, having been brought 
up in Venice, where he had become a friar preacher. He was a man 
of great learning and holiness, and had been made a cardinal on account 
of his worth and seemly life by Boniface, whom he now succeeded 

1 66 SER GIOVANNI. [day xiv. 

in the papacy. But he had held this dignity only eight months and a 
half when he died at Perugia in the following wise. In the month of 
July, 1304, when the pope was at table, a serving youth, who wore the 
livery of the monastery of Santa Petronella in Perugia, presented to 
him some figs in a silver basket as the gift of the abbess of the monas- 
tery aforesaid, who was his penitent. The pope accepted the figs 
with the greatest pleasure, in token whereof he ate several of them 
without suspicion ; but falling sick afterwards, it was noised abroad that 
the figs had been poisoned, and a belief arose that he died through 
eating the same, and he was buried by the preaching friars, being a 
member of that order. He was indeed a man of holy and righteous 
life, and it was by reason of his worthiness that he was poisoned. It 
happened after the pope's death that the college of cardinals broke 
into two sections : of one of these the leaders were Messer Matteo 
Rosso degli Orsini and Messer Francesco Gaietani, the nephew of 
Pope Boniface ; and the other section was swayed by Messer Napoleone 
degli Orsini dal Monte and the Cardinal of Prato. The last-named 
were set upon restoring the Colonnas, their kinsfolk, to their estates, 
and were friendly to the King of France and adherents of the Ghibelline 
party. After the cardinals had been for more than nine months in 
conclave, and had, moreover, been strongly urged by the Perugians to 
elect a pope, but without coming to a decision, it chanced one day that 
Cardinal Francesco Gaietani and the Cardinal of Prato, who was a 
man of the most subtle mind and exceedingly well versed in temporal 
affairs, met in a private place, and Da Prato spake thus, * We are 
acting greatly amiss in not electing a pope ;' whereupon Messer Francesco 
replied, c This rests not with us,' and Da Prato went on to say, * If I 
can hit upon any legitimate scheme, will you accede thereto ? ' and 
Gaietani replied that he would. Having discussed the matter more 
minutely they came to the agreement that one party should nominate 
three ultramontanes, men fitting to fill the chair of Peter, and that 
the other party, at the expiration of forty days, should proceed to the 
election of whichever of these seemed most acceptable, and that he 
should be chosen pope. 

Messer Francesco on his part assented to the selection of the three, 
deeming that his party would reap advantage thereby, and they chose 
three ultramontane archbishops, all of whom had been advanced by 
Pope Boniface, his uncle, and who were, moreover, well affected to 
Messer Francesco and foes of the French king. He thought that any 
one of these when elected pope must needs favour his party's cause, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 167 

and he reckoned especially upon the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Now 
the astute Cardinal of Prato in like fashion placed his hopes upon this 
same man, notwithstanding he was ill affected towards the King of 
France on account of the injuries done to his people by Messer Charles 
of Valois in the Gascon war. Da Prato knew him for a man greedy of 
honours, like most Gascons, and for this reason he trusted to bring him 
to the king's side by due rewards. Therefore he and his party in the 
conclave laid their plans, and agreed upon the same; and, having set 
in order the letters of the other cardinals of his party, he wrote word 
to the King of France concerning all they had resolved to do. With so 
great promptitude did he despatch this business that the tidings thereof 
were sped from Perugia to Paris in eleven days — tidings which let the 
King of France see that now was the time when he must choose them 
as friends or foes. 

The king having received the letters aforesaid, and decided that 
business of this sort demanded speed beyond aught else, sent by 
messenger letters written in a friendly spirit towards the archbishop 
and his followers, informing him that the king desired an interview, 
forasmuch as he had somewhat of the highest moment to discuss with 
him. Having taken horse with a small following, the king came in 
six days to a remote abbey in the country of San Giovanni Angelini, 
whither the archbishop was expected to repair. When they had met 
and had heard mass together, and had sworn faith upon the altar, the 
king, addressing the archbishop in friendly discourse, pledged himself 
to reconcile him with Messer Charles, concluding with these words : 
1 Now look you to this, it lies in my power to make you pope, and for 
this reason I am come hither. Therefore you must promise to do me 
six favours ; and, your promise given, I will cause you to be advanced 
to this honour. To prove to you I am not using vain words, behold 
here the letters of both parties of the cardinals.' The Gascon, who 
was burning to be made pope, cast himself at the king's feet when he 
saw that he had power to procure his election, and said, ' My lord, I 
now see that thou lovest me, and that in lieu of hatred thou art loading 
me with kindness, so thou mayst count upon me, for I am anxious to 
serve thee.' The king having raised him up, kissed him on the mouth, 
and then said, ' The six favours I ask of you are these : The first is 
that you procure my reconciliation with the Church and pardon for the 
misdeed of the seizure of Pope Boniface. The second, that you get 
removed from myself and from all my followers the curse of excom- 
munication. The third, that you grant to me the tenths of all my king- 

1 68 SER GIOVANNI. [day xiv. 

dom for five years. The fourth, that you promise to consign to shame 
and oblivion the memory of Pope Boniface. The fifth, that you restore 
to the cardinalate Messer Jacopo and Messer Pietro Colonna. The 
sixth I keep in my bosom, to be told elsewhere and at some other 
time.' ' 

The archbishop gave his promise, and confirmed it by an oath 
sworn over the body of Christ ; moreover, he gave to the king as 
hostages his brother and two of his nephews; whereupon the king 
promised on his oath to make him pope, and they went their several 
ways with great pomp and rejoicing. The king took with him the 
hostages under the plea of making peace between them and Messer 
Charles, and returned to Paris, whence he wrote to the Cardinal of 
Prato and to the others what he had done, and that they should, with- 
out hesitation, make choice of Messer Ramondo del Gotto, the Arch- 
bishop of Bordeaux, as pope, the aforesaid being his trusted and perfect 
friend. The business was so pressing that the king's letter to the 
Cardinal of Prato, written with all secrecy, came to hand, by God's 
pleasure, after a lapse of thirty days. As soon as the cardinal received 
the same, he showed it to those of his party, and then sent word to the 
rest of the college that, when it should please them, a conclave might 
be held, so that they might carry out the pact settled between them. 
When they were come together the aforesaid Messer Ramondo del 
Gotto was chosen by the influence of the party of the Cardinal of Prato, 
and then his selection was accepted and confirmed with the greatest joy 
by both parties, all singing aloud the Te Deum laudamus, and a part of 
them knowing nought of the treachery which was afoot, but rather 
believing that they had now a pope in whom they could trust. When 
the notices of the election were published, a great uproar arose amongst 
the retainers. 

This election took place on the fifth day of June, 1305, the papal 
chair having been vacant ten months and twenty-eight days. When the 
tidings of the election were taken to the pope, who was beyond the Alps, 
he accepted the office with much joy, taking the title of Clement V. He 
forthwith sent out a message citing all the cardinals to be present at his 
coronation in Lyons, a city of Burgundy, and he sent a similar notice to 
the Kings of France, England, and Aragon, and to all the nominated 
barons on that side of the Alps. Whereupon the greater part of the 
Italian cardinals understood that they had been tricked, for they had 

1 What this sixth condition was has never been known. One theory is that it 
related to the suppression of the Templars. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 169 

believed that the pope would repair to Rome for his coronation, and 
Messer Matteo Rosso degli Orsini, who was the prior and the senior 
member of the college of cardinals, and who, moreover, had unwillingly- 
joined the pacl: aforesaid, said to the Cardinal of Prato, as soon as he 
perceived how he and his party had been duped over the matter, c You 
have had your desire in letting the court be taken beyond the Alps ; 
but, if I know aught of the Gascons, long time will pass before the 
chair of Peter returns to Italy.' 

As soon as the pope and the college had arrived at Lyons on the 
Rhone, he was crowned and consecrated on Martinmas day in the 
presence of the King of France, and of Messer Charles of Valois, and 
many other barons ; and, according to the promise he had given, he 
took off from the king the ban of excommunication, and made him a 
sharer of all the honours and beneficences of the Church. Likewise he 
granted to him for five years the tenths of the kingdom, as he had 
agreed, and in the Lent ensuing he created, at the king's instance, twelve 
French cardinals. He gave back the cardinalate to the two Colonna 
cardinals, and withdrew with his court to Bordeaux, where the Italians, 
both cardinals and others, were very ill looked upon. And for this 
reason the court finally left Rome in the year 1305." 

As soon as the novel was finished the fair Saturnina began her can- 
zonet in these words : 

What though fell Fortune strike with wrath amain, 
Despair not thou thy welfare to regain. 

But he must keep a watchful mind 

Who would recoup his treasure lost, 
And dare, and cast all fear behind, 
Fortune defy, nor count the cost. 
So may repair his vessel tempest tost, 
And when his hand is full, may put aside his gain. 

And he whose courage glows within 

On Fortune's smile need never wait, 
But bold of heart he sure will win 

His treasure, reft by fraud or fate. 

And wise men oft their losses will abate ; 
For strong the hand of him who is of knowledge fain. 

Risk not thy bark in every blast, 

Nor in the storms ill fortune sends ; 
For no one loves his lot as cast, 

But what he misses aye commends; 
Let him who for his dear desire contends 
Seek one who knows his want, nor will he seek in vain. 

1 70 SER GIOVANNI. [day xiv. 

Go now, my song, to those whom Fate 

Scourges with stripes as sharp as mine ; 
Bid them, would they their woes abate, 

Check rash desire and cease to pine ; 

Let rest and haste, and ruth and wrath, combine, 
And treat all censure harsh with scoffing and disdain. 

As soon as the song had come to an end, the two lovers clasped 
each other by the hand, and kissed lips lovingly, and departed. 


C|)e iFtfteentt) 2Dap. 




wgff Jf?*$jQ 

litti<ii& i 



?f?oto t^e toorlo is toibtorti into tj&ree parts. 

HEN the comely pair of lovers returned on the fifteenth 
day to begin their wonted discourse, Auretto said, 
tc Forasmuch as we have for several days given over 
our fabulous tales and have dealt with moral themes, 
I am minded to-day to tell you how the world comes 
to be divided into three parts. 
We find from the Bible history that Nimrod x the giant was the first 
to let assemble a nation, and that through his power and vast following 
he became the leader of all the issue of the sons of Noah, which consisted 
of seventy-two persons, that is to say, twenty-seven descended from Shem, 
the eldest, twenty from Ham, the second, and twenty-five from Japhet, 
the third son. This Nimrod was the son of Cus, the son of Ham, and 
through his pride he thought to set himself up as a rival to God, saying 
that he was lord of earth as God was lord of heaven. Moreover, in order 
that God might not be able again to punish man by a deluge of water as 
in the early times, he caused to be built the marvellous tower of Babel. 
Therefore God, to bring to nought his pride, sent confusion amongst those 
who worked at the tower ; for, while at first all spoke Hebrew, 2 he now 
divided their speech into seventy-two tongues, each differing from the 
other. On account of this they could not understand each other, and 

1 Dr. Moore, " Studies in Dante," p. 73, traces the rise of the giant legend as applied 
to Nimrod. It first appears in St. Augustine. Ser Giovanni probably derived his 
idea from Dante, Inferno, xxxi. 

2 Brunetto Latini, Tesoro, c. 23, writes : " E Nembrot medesimo tnuto la sua lingua 
di Ebreo in Caldeo." Dante, Par., xxvi., makes Adam declare that the tongue he used 
was extincl: long before the building of Babel. 

172 SER GIOVANNI. [day xv. 

were forced to abandon the work of building the tower, which had already 
risen to the height of forty thousand paces, and was a thousand paces 
in width, each pace being three ells of our measure. This tower was 
built in the great city of Babylon, which word in Chaldean signifies con- 
fusion in our tongue, and there Nimrod and his people paid worship to 
the images of their false gods. The tower was begun 700 years after 
the deluge, that is to say, 2,154 years after the beginning of the world. 

For a hundred and seven years they strove to build the tower, and in 
those days men lived long ; and since in their long lives they had many 
women to wife, many children were born to them, wherefore they multi- 
plied hugely, what though they lived without laws. In the aforesaid city, 
before wars began upon earth, lived Ninus, the son of Bel, who was de- 
scended from Assur, a son of Shem. This Ninus built the great city of 
Nineveh, where after his death his wife Semiramis bore sway, the most 
cruel and abandoned woman in all the world ; and in these days Abraham 
also lived. On account of the confusion of tongues the tribes and families 
of mankind were scattered, and went to live in divers places, the first 
general division being a threefold one, and made according to the 
separate progeny of the three sons of Noah. At this time the earth was 
divided into three parts. Of these the first and the largest was called 
Asia, which includes almost half of the Mare oceanum and the terres- 
trial Paradise x as well. It is divided from the northern regions by the 
river Don in the Soldan's realm, which river, after running through the 
Masotic swamp, discharges itself into the greater sea, called in the Scrip- 
tures the Pontic. On the southern side it is divided from the desert 
which parts Syria and Egypt by the river Nile, which has its mouth 
at Damietta, and comes to an end in our own sea. Asia contains in 
itself divers provinces, amongst which are India, Chaldea, Persia, 
Assyria, Mesopotamia, Media, Turkey, Syria, and many others. All 
these regions were peopled by the descendants of Shem, the eldest son 
of Noah. 

The second part is called Africa, which begins in the east at the 
river Nile, and from the south, as far as the straits of Seville, is washed 
on the west by the great ocean, which is called in those parts the 
Lybian sea. On the north it is bounded by our own sea. This part 
of the world contains Egypt, Numidia, Barbary, Garbo, the kingdom 
of Setta, with divers other woody and desert regions, and it was peopled 
by the offspring of Ham, the second son of Noah. The last part, 

1 Dante, Purg., xxviii. 

novel I.] SER GIOVANNI. 173 

which is called Europe, has the beginning of its boundaries on the east 
at the river Don in the Soldan's dominions, which, as I have said 
already, runs through the Meotic swamp into the Pontic or Euxine sea. 
On this sea, on the European side, lie Russia, Thrace, Bulgaria, and 
Alania. Europe lies along this seacoast as far as Constantinople, and 
then turns towards the south in the Archipelago and our Grecian sea. 
It contains the whole of Greece and Morea ; its boundaries then go 
northward up the Adriatic sea, known now as the Gulf of Venice, and 
stretching towards Durazzo it passes Sclavonia and certain territories 
of Hungary, Istria, Friuli, the mark of Treviso, and the city of Venice. 
Then, turning to the south, it runs around Italy, Romagna, the mark 
of Ancona, Abruzzi, Apulia, Calabria, opposite to the island of SiciJy. 
It goes northwards by Naples and Gaeta to Rome, from whence the 
coast runs by Tuscany to Pisa and Genoa, leaving on the other side the 
islands of Corsica and Sardinia. It follows the coasts of Provence, 
Catalonia, Aragon, the isles of Majorca and Granata, and Spain, as far 
as the strait of Seville, where it faces Africa, with a narrow breadth of 
sea between. Having passed this it turns to the right hand along the 
shore of the great ocean, going round Spain, Castile, Portugal, and 
Galicia. Then towards the north it reaches Navarre, Brittany, and 
Normandy, and leaving afar the isle of Iceland it goes by Picardy, 
Flanders, and the kingdom of France ; then, the island of England and 
Scotland, formerly called Great Britain, being left beyond a small space 
of sea to the north, it includes, towards the east and north, Iceland, 
Conesa, Holland, Friesland, Denmark, Norway, and Poland, which lands 
enclose the whole of Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Saxony, and Sweden. 
And turning towards Russia, in which rises the river Don where Europe 
begins, the whole of this part has been traversed. 

This third part contains many mountains and provinces which are 
not here named, and this is the most populous portion of the world, 
seeing that it is the most temperate. Europe was first peopled by the 
descendants of Japhet, the third son of Noah, and of Javan, the son he 
begat, who after the deluge went to Europe and dwelt in Italy, and there 
he died. Javan succeeded him, and from him there sprang many chiefs 
and peoples, and he during his life wrought many noble and valorous 
deeds. Now you will understand how the world is constituted as we 
see it, according to the Scriptures and the ancient chronicles and 




174 SE R GIOVANNI. [day xv. 


$oto tfje cttg of Crop toas tostrogrtr, anto ijoto tfje fiutltat* tfjmof torn sprung 

(torn dFimU. 

HEN Auretto's novel was finished Saturnina began and said, 
<c I desire now to let you know in what fashion the city of 
Troy was overthrown, and also that the men who built it 
sprang first from Fiesole. As we read in the chronicles, 
Fiesole was the first city built in Europe, its founder being Atlas, who 
had a wife named Ele&ra. He was of the stock of Ham, the son of 
Noah, and begat three sons, one called Italus, another Dardanus, and 
the third Sicanus. This Sicanus settled in the island of Sicily, of which 
he was the first inhabitant; and when King Atlas died in his city of 
Fiesole he left behind him there his sons Italus and Dardanus, both of 
whom were valorous and skilful and fitted for rule. But as they found 
that neither one of them would be content to govern the kingdom 
except as sole monarch, they agreed that one should withdraw elsewhere, 
as their gods should decree. Wherefore, having offered sacrifice, an 
answer was given by the gods that it behoved Dardanus to seek his 
fortune in other lands, leaving Italus to rule alone in Fiesole. From 
Italus sprang many great and powerful nobles, and he called the country 
after his own name. In the course of time divers comely and strong 
cities were built, of which Fiesole remained the chief until the day when 
Rome was advanced to the supreme lordship. 

Dardanus departed from Fiesole, and with the soothsayer Apollo 
and a great following of his people went into Asia, into the province 
called Phrygia, which lies beyond Greece upon the mainland, when the 
islands of the Archipelago have been left behind. It is now under the 
rule of the Turks. When Dardanus came there, he built, by the advice 
of Apollo, a city hard by the sea, which he called Dardania, after his 
own name, and this name endured as long as Dardanus and his son 
lived. Dardanus begat Eritonius, and Eritonius Troius, who changed 
the name of the city, so that from Dardania it became Troy. To Troius 
were born three sons, Ilus, Assaracus, and Ganymede. Ilus built in 
Troy a fortress which, after his own name, he called Ilion, and he begat 
Laomedon and Titon. Titon begat Memnon, in whose time the city 
of Troy was destroyed. Troy was twice laid in ruins. The first time 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 175 

it was destroyed by the great and powerful Hercules, the son of Alcmena, 
daughter of Electrion, and fighting with him were Jason, the son of 
Eson and nephew of Peleus, King of Thessaly, and Telamon, King of 
Salamis, which is an island in the Eubcean sea opposite to Athens and 
near the gulf of Argos. This time Troy was destroyed because 
Laomedon had forbidden the port of Troy to Hercules and his 
companions, and had put upon them affronts and ill-usage with the 
intent of seizing and slaying them, what time they went with Jason on 
the quest of the Golden Fleece, as is told in the poets. Laomedon was 
thus moved to do violence to the Argonauts for the reason that he held 
all the Greeks as his foes, on account of the carrying off of Ganymede, 
his uncle, the brother of Ilus, his father, by Tantalus ; and he desired, 
now that chance favoured him, to renew the strife ; but, in the end, he 
was slain and Troy overthrown. Telamon, who in the conquest of the 
land had proved himself a mighty warrior, took Hesione, the daughter 
of Laomedon, and carried her away with him into Greece as his mistress. 
After the destruction of Troy, Priam, the young son of Laomedon, 
who had been absent at the time of the overthrow, returned thereto, and 
with the aid of his friends rebuilt the city upon larger ground, and with 
stronger walls than heretofore. All the neighbouring peoples flocked 
thither, so that in brief time it became a very mighty city, the circuit of 
the walls being, according to general belief, seventy miles. This king 
had a wife whose name was Hecuba, by whom he had many sons, the 
eldest of whom was Hector, a very valiant warrior and of great prowess, 
and, besides him, Paris, Troilus, Helenus, Deiphobus, and Polidorus. 
Of the daughters the most famous were Creusa, the wife of .ZEneas, 
Cassandra, Iliona, Licaste, and Polyxena. Moreover, he had sons by 
other women, so that in all he begat more than forty, and these sons of his 
were all valorous and stout men-at-arms. Now when the city of Troy 
had become a mighty and powerful state, and King Priam and his sons 
were wielding great power, Paris and a band of followers armed twenty 
ships, and set sail, and came to Greece in order to avenge the death of 
Laomedon, his grandfather, the overthrow of Troy, and captivity of 
Hesione, his aunt, and he landed in the kingdom of Menelaus, the 
brother of Agamemnon. This Menelaus had to wife Helen, a lady 
beautiful beyond all others, and it chanced that she had gone to take 
part in a festival which was being celebrated on a certain island of the 
king's where Paris landed, and he, when he beheld her, straightway 
fell in love with her. Without more ado he slew those who tried to 
defend her, and took her back with him to Troy. 

176 SER GIOVANNI. [day xr. 

By some accounts, the island from which Helen was ravished was 
that which is now called Ischia, between Pozzuoli and Baiae in the parts 
where are now Naples and the Terra di Lavoro. These were formerly- 
peopled by Greeks ; but, according to the true story, the island from 
which she was taken was Citera, which is called Cerigo to-day, and 
lies near to Peloponnesus. When Helen was carried away to Troy 
Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon, together with Castor and 
Pollux, the brothers of Helen, and the other great chiefs of Greece, took 
an oath that they would overthrow Troy ; and, having assembled a 
great army and a thousand ships, they departed to lay siege to the city. 
Many a bitter fight was there fought out, and Hector and Troilus and 
many others of Priam's sons were slain. The host lay there encamped 
for ten years, six months, and fifteen days, and at the end captured the 
city by treachery, in which Antenor was inculpated, as it is written by 
Dares the Phrygian. They stole in by night, and, after the slaughter 
of King Priam and all his house and of divers other citizens, they 
mastered the whole place and set fire to it. When the Grecian host 
departed from Troy disaster overtook many of their ships ; and Helenus, 
the son of Priam, who was not old enough to bear arms, and Hecuba, 
the wife of King Priam, and Cassandra, her daughter, and Andromache, 
the wife of Hector, and her two young sons, with a following of many 
of the people, departed from Troy and went to Greece into the country 
of Macedonia, and there, having been hospitably received by the Greeks, 
they populated the land, and built them a city, and the son of Achilles 
took to wife Andromache, the widow of Hector, and from this union 
sprang many great kings and lords. 

Antenor, who was one of the chiefs of the Trojans, and Priam, the 
young son of the king, set forth from Troy with more than twelve thou- 
sand followers and with many ships ; and, having sailed over the sea, they 
came to the place where Venice now stands, and settled themselves in the 
islands thereabout, so that they might be freed from all other men, and 
there they built the great city of Venice. After the lapse of some years 
Antenor, having left there Priam, who had now reached manhood, 
departed with a portion of his company, and disembarked on the main- 
land, where they built the city of Padua, giving it this name because 
of the nearness of the river Po, which in the Latin tongue is called 
Padus. At last Antenor died and was buried there, and it is not long 
time agone since certain letters were brought to light upon a tomb in 
the city which declared that the original builder of Padua lay there at 
rest, which tomb was restored by the Paduans with much honour. It 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 177 

came to pass that another Priam, a descendant of him who together 
with Antenor had founded Venice, went therefrom with a mighty follow- 
ing into a land bordering upon Hungary, where he and his descendants 
held sway until they were subdued by the Romans. In the days of the 
Emperor Valentinian these sons of the Trojans lent aid to that emperor 
in his conquest of the Alani, a people who abode hard by the Danube 
and who had revolted from the Roman yoke, and on this account they 
were held free of all tribute for ten years. When these ten years were 
elapsed — the Emperor Valentinian having died meantime — they made 
Marcomiro their king and leader, who was descended from the afore- 
said Priam, and they rebelled against Rome, in order that they might 
not be obliged to pay tribute. Under Marcomiro's leadership they 
withdrew from their country and passed into Germany, conquering 
for themselves divers cities and towns lying between the Danube and 
the Rhine which had formerly been subject to the Romans, and from 
that time forth the Romans held no independent sway in Germany. 

Marcomiro reigned thirty years in Germany, which country was 
still pagan, and after him reigned Pharamond, his son, who conquered 
with his arms that country which now is called France, but in Latin 
was known as Gallia. He was the first King of France, and reigned 
eleven years, and after him Clodion Capillatus reigned eighteen years, 
and conquered the city of Cambrai and the country round about. After 
Clodion, his son Meroveus ruled ten years, adding largely to the king- 
dom, and then came Childeric, his son, who reigned twenty-six years, 
but by the evil conduct of his barons he lost his kingdom and was 
banished, and at the end of eight years was recalled as King of France. 
After him came Alois, 1 his son, who reigned thirty years, and by his 
valour conquered in Germany Cologne and Saxony, and in France 
Orleans and other places still under Roman sway. He was a greater 
and more powerful king than any of those who had gone before him, 
and was the first Christian King of France, having been induced by the 
exhortation of his wife, who was a Christian, to receive baptism, which 
event came to pass as follows. Being about to attack the Germans, who 
had rebelled against him, and being, moreover, inferior in force to the 
foe, he made a vow that, if he should return victorious, he would receive 
the Christian faith and suffer himself to be baptized. Having accom- 
plished what he desired he was baptized by the hand of St. Remigius, 
archbishop of Reims. After Alois, 2 Lothaire, his son, reigned forty-five 

1 Clovis. 2 From this point the genealogy falls into confusion. 

A A 

178 SER GIOVANNI. [day xv. 

years, and him Chilperic, his son, succeeded, and reigned twenty-three 
years, when he was put to death by Fredegonde, his wife, leaving as his 
heir his little son, Lothaire, only four months old. This Lothaire 
reigned forty-two years, and after his death left his realm to Childebert, 
his son, who reigned fourteen years, and built the church of St. Denis 
at Paris, and Louis, his son, reigned after him for seventeen years. This 
Louis wrought great hurt to the kingdom by his evil life : he had three 
sons, Lothaire, Theodoric, and Alderic ; and Lothaire, his eldest son, 
reigned after him for three years, and then Theodoric reigned for one 
year ; when, having been deposed by the barons by reason of his 
avarice, he became a friar of St. Denis. Alderic, the third brother, 
then reigned for twelve years, what though he took little thought of 
his kingdom, but he was really under the control of a certain great 
baron of France, his guardian, who was named Vertaiere. On this 
account Pepin I., one of the leading barons of France, and son 
of Ancors, and a man of great power, took up arms, and, after defeat- 
ing the king, slew Vertaiere, and restored Theodoric to the throne, 
which he occupied for three years. He was succeeded by his eldest son, 
Clodoveus, who reigned four years under the guardianship of Pepin. 
Then Childebert, the second brother of Clodoveus, reigned eighteen 
years, and Dagobert, the third, four years, and Lothaire, the fourth, 
two years, Pepin holding the real power the while. Then Chilperic, 
the son of Lothaire, reigned five years, and his guardian was Charles 
Martel, a man of great worth and power, and one very fortunate in the 

This Charles Martel conquered the whole of Germany, Bavaria, 
and Savoy, and brought them under the sway of France. After 
Chilperic, his son Theodoric reigned fifteen years, and after Theodoric, 
his son Chilperic reigned nine years, both being under the sway of 
Charles, forasmuch as they possessed nought but the name of king. 
When the Charles aforesaid died, the government passed to his son, 
Pepin II., and Chilperic, being a man of no worth whatsoever, was 
deposed from the kingdom, with the consent of Pope Stephen, who at 
that time ruled the Church ; and thus, with the consent of all the barons 
of France, he was deposed and became a friar. After a short lapse of time 
he died without offspring, and in him came to an end the line of 
Priam. Hereupon the pope and all the barons of France called to the 
throne the valiant Pepin, and a decree was made that no man hereafter 
should become King of France who was not sprung from the stock of 
Pepin. And after Pepin came the mighty Charles the Great." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 179 

When the novel was ended, Auretto began his canzonet and 

True lovers need not fear ill fortune's frown, 

But for their loyalty reward will earn, 
For sovereign Love hath in his law laid down 

That those who love shall loved be in turn. 
Since each one to amend his failings tries, 

So none may tax him with ungrateful will ; 
Wherefore give thou thy servant true the prize, 

And thus God's law and Nature's too fulfil. 
He who unthankful feels the sting of love 

Should miss each honoured boon, each guerdon sweet. 
Fortune to lovers true will friendly prove, 

And loyal service grace will ever meet. 
Let them not shrink at pain, or nurse despair, 
When upon others Fortune smiles more fair. 

Each man that breathes Love will some time molest ; 

Or here, or there, we all must hail him king. 
Trees, flowers, and fields, in sweet spring-time are drest 

In the bright hues of life's awakening. 
All ladies fair ! I pray you for your profit 

To prize your youth, nor wait till time grows late. 
That golden youth ! Waste not a moment of it, 

If you would in love's bliss participate. 
Now speed, my pleasant song, to him whose heart 

Is wrung, like mine, with agony severe. 
Tell those, who in their bosoms feel the dart, 

Pluck out the burning brand, and never fear 
Desire will die, for 'tis not God's intent 
That we should bide in lasting punishment. 

When the canzonet was finished, the two lovers clasped hands and 
brought their conversation to a close, and sighing a sweet farewell they 

Ci)e Stjcteenti) SDap* 


3^oto Eeneas passeti from Crop into 3Jtalg. 

N the sixteenth day, when the two lovers returned to 
their wonted meeting-place, Saturnina began and said : 
"I desire to tell you to-day in what manner ^Eneas 
passed from Troy into Italy. During the destruction 
of Troy, /Eneas, with his father Anchises, Ascanius, 
his little son, and Creusa, the daughter of the great 
King Priam, together with a following of three thousand and three 
hundred of the stoutest warriors of the city, embarked in twenty-two 
ships and departed. This ./Eneas was descended from the royal race of 
Troy in this wise. Troius begat Ilus, and Ilus begat Laomedon, and 
Laomedon begat Priam, and Priam begat Hector. The same Troius begat 
Assaracus, Assaracus begat Capis, Capis begat Anchises, and Anchises 
begat ./Eneas. Wherefore Hector and ./Eneas were descended from the 
same Troius, both in the fourth generation. This ./Eneas was a leader 
of great wisdom and prowess, and very comely in seeming. When he 
set forth from Troy he went to the oracle of Apollo, asking what course 
he ought to follow ; whereupon he was answered that it behoved him to 
cross over into Italy, whence the Trojans had originally sprung, so that, 
after having suffered many wearying toils by land and sea, they might 
rest themselves awhile in that land, and take to themselves wives, and 
beget by them a race of great and valiant rulers. As soon as ./Eneas 
and his comrades heard the reply of the oracle, they put to sea with a 
light heart ; and, after meeting many toils and vicissitudes in their 
course, arrived in Macedonia, where dwelt Helenus and his wife and the 
children of Hector, who bade ./Eneas welcome, albeit weeping plentifully 
over the memories of Troy. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 181 

/Eneas once more set sail, and for the reason that his followers were 
ill-versed in seamanship, and knew not in which quarter Italy might lie, 
the fleet was borne by the winds to the island of Sicily, to the spot where 
to-day stands the city of Trapani. There Anchises, through the fatigues 
of the voyage and his old age, died and was buried, with all the honours 
that could be paid, by his children, who, after lamenting him bitterly, 
set forth once more on their voyage. Next there fell upon them a 
terrible storm, in which one of their ships sank with all the men who 
were therein, and all the others came to land at divers places on the 
coast of Africa, where Dido Sidonia, a very noble queen, had begun to 
build the mighty city of Carthage. She gave to /Eneas and Ascanius 
and all their following a most honourable reception, and when she per- 
ceived how seemly a man /Eneas was she straightway became enamoured 
of him ; thus iEneas, swayed by her benefits and by her delightsome 
presence, tarried there some long while ; but, having been warned by 
the gods in a vision that the time had come to leave Carthage, he 
made ready to depart. Then the lovesick Dido, cutting short his 
excuses, dismissed him with these words : ■ I would never have believed 
that you, who were received by me with such honourable welcome when 
you were the sport of Fortune, would now abandon me in such ungrateful 
fashion. Not only did I save your life, but, together with all I had in 
the world, I gave you myself.' ./Eneas declared that he would return; 
but she, weeping plenteous tears, went on, c I know thee, thy desire is 
to rule Italy.' Then, having beheld him sail away, she slew herself 
with the sword which he had left behind. 

After ./Eneas and his following set sail from Africa, he came to Sicily, 
where he had buried his father, Anchises, and there he let celebrate afresh 
the funeral rites with games according to custom. He was welcomed 
honourably by Acestes, who then ruled the land, for the sake of their 
ancient kinship — for Acestes was sprung, like the Trojans, from Sicanus, 
the son of Atlas — and after a time he set forth once more ; and, his 
voyage ended, he touched Italy in the gulf of Baiae near to Cape 
Misenum, where Naples stands this day, but then the place was a dense 
wood. It was here that /Eneas was led by the guidance of Fate to view 
the lower world, where he recognized the shade of his father and of the 
ill-starred Dido. The shade of Anchises showed to him all those who 
should spring from him, and from Ascanius, his son, the men who were 
fated to bear rule over the great city of Rome. Having ascended from 
the nether world he sailed along the coast and entered the mouth of the 
Tiber, and there, through the signs given to him by the gods, he knew 

1 82 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvi. 

that he had come to the land he was seeking, and, having landed the 
Trojans, he began to build houses of wood in the spot where the city of 
Ostia stands to-day. They fortified their dwelling, on account of the 
people of the country, who gave them an ill reception, and full often 
they were forced to join in fierce battle with these, and vi&ory always 
crowned their arms. The king of this country was Latinus, who was 
sprung from Saturn in this wise. When Saturn fled from Crete, having 
been driven therefrom by Jove, his son, he went to that part of Italy 
called Latium, which was ruled by Javan of the seed of Noah. The 
people of these parts were rough and brutal in their habits ; wherefore 
Saturn taught them the arts, and induced them to build towns and 
houses, and to sow grain and to plant the vine. Moreover, he built the 
city of Sutri, and then it came to pass that the people, who knew not how 
such deeds could be done, deemed that they must have come about by 
a miracle and worshipped him as a god, and Javan made him the partner 
of his kingdom, in which state he lived thirty-four years. 

After him Picus, his son, reigned thirty-one years, and then Faunus, 
the son of Picus, reigned nineteen years, when he was murdered by his 
own people, leaving two sons, Lavinius and Latinus. Lavinius built 
the city of Lavinium, and after his death Latinus, who survived, changed 
the name of the city and called it Laurentum, because of a laurel tree 
which grew upon the great tower thereof. This Latinus reigned thirty- 
two years, and was a very wise king. He had one daughter, called 
Lavinia, who had been promised by her mother to Turnus, King of 
Tuscany. ./Eneas besought King Latinus that he would grant him leave 
to live peacefully in the land, and Latinus gave him friendly reception, 
promising to let him have his daughter Lavinia to wife, since the 
auguries had informed him that it behoved him to marry her to some 
one of outland race. iEneas rejoiced greatly, and on this account he 
fought with Turnus divers battles, in the course of which Turnus slew 
a giant, a very doughty warrior, and iEneas a certain warlike virgin 
called Camilla, who was very valiant and bold ; and in the end Turnus 
and iEneas met in single combat, when Turnus was conquered and slain 
by the hand of iEneas. Forthwith JEneas took to wife Lavinia, who 
brought as her dowry one half of the kingdom of Latinus, and after his 
death iEneas ruled the whole state, but he only lived three years longer 
than Latinus. After his death Ascanius bore sway ; and Lavinia, who 
was then pregnant, fled to the woods out of fear of her stepson, and 
there she brought forth a man-child whom she called Sylvius Postumus, 
because he was born in the woods after his father's death. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 183 

As soon as Ascanius heard of this, he caused her to be brought back 
and received her with all respect, treating her as his mother, and her 
young son as his brother. After some time had passed Ascanius, leaving 
to Lavinia the state formerly ruled by his father, departed with certain 
followers to build the city of Alba, which thing took place in the days 
of Samson the strong man ; and when Ascanius had reigned thirty-eight 
years after the death of his father, he died and left two sons, one named 
Julius, from whom sprang the Julian race of Rome, and the other named 
Sylvius. This Sylvius became enamoured of a niece of Lavinia, and 
begat by her a son, but the mother died in childbed, and on this account 
the son was called Brutus. When he was grown to man's stature it 
chanced that one day, when hunting in the woods, he slew his father by 
mischance, and, fearing the penalties of this deed, he fled, taking with 
him divers followers, with whom he embarked and sailed to England. 
From him the Britons had their source, and from him likewise are 
descended many great lords and powerful kings, amongst whom are the 
brothers Brennus and Balinus, who overthrow the Romans and laid 
siege to Rome, which they took all but the Capitol. From them, too, 
sprang the valiant King Arthur, and the British romancers declare that 
Constantine, who endowed the Church, came from the same stock. But 
through war and dissension their progeny came to an end, and England 
fell under the sway of divers nations, the Saxons, the Frisians, the Danes, 
the Spaniards, and others. At the present day the land is ruled by one 
sprung from the Duke of the Northmen, who by his prowess and valour 
made himself king thereof, and broke the sway of divers unjust nobles. 

After the death of Ascanius, Sylvius Postumus, the son of iEneas 
and Lavinia, was King of the Latins, and he reigned twenty-nine 
years with great wisdom and valour, what time Saul was King of 
the Hebrews. Moreover, after him ruled twelve kings of his race for 
three hundred and fifty-eight years, all of whom took his cognomen. 
After Sylvius Postumus came JEneas Sylvius, his son, who ruled thirty- 
one years, a contemporary of Saul, King of the Hebrews ; and after him 
Latinus Sylvius, his son, ruled fifty years, in the days of David, King of 
Jerusalem. After Latinus Sylvius, his son, Albus Sylvius, reigned 
thirty-nine years, in the days of King Solomon; and then his son, 
Capetus Sylvius, ruled twenty-six years, during the reigns of Abijah 
and Asa, Kings of Judah ; and then his son, Capis Sylvius, reigned 
twenty-eight years, and built Capua in Campania, in the days of Asa, 
King of Judah. Calpetus Sylvius, the son of the aforesaid, reigned 
thirteen years, in the time of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, and after him 

1 84 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvi. 

Tiberinus Sylvius, reigned eight years, also in Jehoshaphat's time. He 
was drowned in the river Albula, and for this reason they changed the 
name of the river, and called it hereafter the Tiber. 

After Tiberinus Sylvius, Agrippa Sylvius, his son, reigned forty 
years, in the days of Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Joash, Kings of Judah, and 
after him his son, Alladius Sylvius, ruled nineteen years, in the days of 
Joash, King of Judah. After Alladius, Aventinus, his son, reigned 
thirty-seven years, in the time of Amaziah, King of Judah ; and after 
his death he was buried on the top of a hill which, after his name, was called 
Mount Aventine. And then came Procas Sylvius, the son of Aventinus, 
who ruled for twenty-three years, in the reign of Uzziah, King of Judah ; 
and after these, in the days of Jotham, King of Judah, reigned Amulius 
Sylvius, son of Procas Sylvius. He reigned forty-four years, and through 
spite he chased out of the land Numitor, his elder brother, and seized 
upon his kingdom. Moreover, he incarcerated in a religious house 
Numitor's daughter, so that she might not bring forth children, but 
she, being appointed to the service of the goddess Vesta, became the 
mother of two boys by the god Mars, as she afterwards confessed, and 
she called one of them Romulus and the other Remus. But it is rather 
to be believed that they were begotten by one of the priests of the temple 
of the god. On this account Amulius caused her to be buried alive on 
the spot where the city of Rieti now stands, and he ordered the children 
to be cast into the Tiber ; but his servants, taking pity upon them, threw 
them instead into a thicket of thorns. A certain shepherd found them 
there, and took them home to his wife, and gave them nurture." 


& continuation of tfje argument of tfje forgoing nobel. 

HEN Saturnina's story was finished, Auretto began his own, 
continuing the discourse : 

" At Rome, in the time of Numa Pompilius, by the 
working of a divine miracle, there fell from the sky a 
crimson shield, which was held by the Romans to be an augury, and was 
adopted by them as their ensign. To this they added the letters S.P.Q. R., 
that is to say, Senatus Populusque Romanus. They likewise gave this 
crimson shield as ensign, but without the aforesaid letters, to certain 

novel n.] SER GIOVANNI. 185 

cities which they built, to wit, Perugia, Florence, Viterbo, and Pisa, 
what though the Florentines, as the name of their city tells, used 
already the white lily, and the Perugians the white griffin, and the men 
of Orvieto the white eagle. True it is that when the white eagle 
appeared upon the Tarpeian rock the Roman senators took the eagle 
for their standard, and we find also that Marius in his campaign against 
the Cimbri bore as an ensign a silver eagle, which sign Catiline also 
had when he was overthrown upon the plain of Pistoia. Julius Cassar 
carried a golden eagle with two heads upon an azure field, while 
Octavius, his nephew, afterwards had an eagle in its natural form upon a 
golden field, and all the emperors who came after him bore the same, 
except Constantine and his successors, who retained the eagle in its 
natural form, but with two heads. • 

I will now tell you somewhat concerning the Roman kings, the 
first of whom was Romulus, who reigned for thirty-seven years, in the 
time of Hezekiah, King of Judah. To him succeeded Numa Pompilius, 
who reigned forty-three years as contemporary to Manasseh, King of 
Judah, and then Tullus Hostilius, who ruled thirty-two years, in the 
days of Manasseh and Ammon, Kings of Judah. This last was a cruel 
man, altogether given over to warfare, and he was the first of the 
Roman kings who wore the purple and received worship as a king. 
He broke the truce with the Sabines, and after divers battles over- 
came them, and died afterwards by a stroke of lightning. Then came 
Ancus Martius, who reigned twenty-four years, in the time of Josiah, 
King of Judah, and who was grandson of the good Numa Pompilius, 
having been born of Numa's daughter. He carried on a mighty war- 
fare with the Latins of Laurentum and Alba, and in the end brought 
them under his dominion. He built the temple of Janus at Rome. 
And Tarquinius Priscus succeeded him, and reigned thirty-eight years, 
contemporaneously with four kings of Judah, to wit, Jehoahaz, Eliakim, 
Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. This king greatly enlarged the city of 
Rome by building the Capitol, and he was the first who was minded 
to celebrate his victories by a triumph in Rome. He built the temple 
of Jupiter, and reigned in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, 
and of the captivity of the sons of Israel, dying at last by assassination. 
After which Servius Tullius became king, and reigned forty-four years, 
what time the Israelites were captives in Babylon. In his day Servius 
Tullius carried on fierce wars against the Sabines, and added greatly to 
the city of Rome, and was at last slain by Tarquinius Superbus, his son- 
in-law, who was moved to this deed by his wife, the own daughter of 

B B 

1 86 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvi. 

Servius. Then Tarquinius reigned for twenty-five years in the days of 
Cambyses, King of Persia, and proved to be the worst and most cruel 
of all by the deeds he wrought. He slew many of the chief Romans 
whom he knew to be opposed to his despotic rule, and divers others in 
order that he might seize their wealth, amongst whom were Marcus 
Junius, his brother-in-law and his eldest son. When Lucius Junius, the 
younger son of Marcus, saw that Tarquin had slain all the chief men 
of the city, and amongst them his father and his brother, he thought 
of a scheme for the conservation of his own life from Tarquin's 
cruelty. He feigned to be half witted, letting Tarquin take possession 
of all his wealth ; whereupon Tarquin kept him in his household as a 
fool, giving him the name of Brutus, which signified a fool or stupid 

Now this Tarquin had three sons, Sextus, Aruns, and Titus, and a 
daughter called Tarquinia, and in the twenty -fourth year of his reign 
there befell him a certain marvel which filled his soul with terror. 
This was a serpent which crawled through his palace ; and on account of 
this portent he sent to inquire of the oracle of Apollo, which was wont 
to give answers as to hidden mysteries, at Delphi, a city of Greece. He 
despatched thither his two younger sons, Aruns and Titus, who took 
with them Brutus, so that he might afford them diversion during the 
journey, for, as it has been remarked already, he set himself resolutely to 
appear to be a fool. Brutus took with him a stick made hollow like 
a cane, in which was enclosed a golden bar, and when they all arrived 
at the temple of Apollo, they did sacrifice to the god, Brutus laying 
his stick upon the place for the offerings. After the youths had 
inquired of the god concerning the wonder which had happened in 
their house, they were seized with desire to ask which of them would 
rule in Rome after the death of their father, and the oracle made 
answer in these words : c O youths, whichever of you shall first kiss 
your mother shall hold the chief power in Rome ! ' Aruns and Titus 
both thought how they should keep this speech a secret from their 
eldest brother, and cast lots as to which of them should first kiss their 
mother on their return to Rome, but Brutus deemed that the words 
aforesaid referred not to the mother who bore them ; so as soon as he 
issued from the temple he kissed the earth, saying to himself that she 
was the common mother of all. 

In these same days another prodigy was exhibited. A pair of eagles 
built their nest on the top of a lofty palm-tree which stood close to the 
royal palace, when there came a vast flock of vultures, which chased the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 187 

eagles away and threw the nest down upon the ground. The young 
ones were therein, and, not being yet feathered, they could not fly, 
wherefore they were dashed to the earth and killed. At this time 
Tarquin had set his host about the city of Ardea, and, since the 
Romans had failed to carry the place at the first assault, they lay 
inactive before it, waiting the turn of affairs. It chanced that one day 
the captains of the army sat at table with Sextus, Tarquin's son, and 
amongst them was Lucius Collatinus. After supper the talk fell upon 
women, and each one of those present began to praise his own wife ; 
whereupon Collatinus cried out, c In this matter there is no need of 
words. I will prove the truth of what I say by demonstration. Let 
us to horse, and then in a few hours' time I will let you see how much 
more worthy of praise my Lucretia is than any of the others.' All the 
company were heated with wine, and each one cried out, c Let us go ;' 
and thus having taken horse they rode to Rome, where they found the 
king's daughters-in-law feasting in lascivious wise with their com- 
panions, and sporting and dancing ; but when they went to the house of 
Collatinus they found Lucretia, not spending her time like the others 
in games and dances, but sitting in the midst of her maidens at home 
spinning and working at other wifely tasks, wherefore to her was given 
the highest praise of all. 

Collatinus invited the youths to a draught of wine, and while he 
tarried there Sextus Tarquinius determined to enjoy Lucretia by force, 
being so greatly inflamed by her beauty and modest bearing, and then 
they all returned to the camp. A few days afterwards Sextus, unknown 
to Collatinus, went with one servant to his friend's house, where he 
received the most friendly welcome from Lucretia, who knew nought of 
his evil intent ; and after supper he was conducted to his chamber. He, 
being hotly inflamed with lust, waited till it seemed to him that all in the 
house must be asleep, and then went with a naked sword in his hand, and 
accompanied by his slave, to the chamber of Lucretia, whom he found 
sleeping. Touching her breast with his left hand he said, c Keep silence, 
Lucretia. I am Sextus Tarquinius. I have a drawn sword in my hand, 
and if you cry out I will slay you.' When the lady had been aroused 
from sleep by terror, he went on to beseech her, confessing his love for 
her, and mixing his prayers with threats. When he perceived that she 
could be moved neither by the one nor by the other to yield herself to 
his desire, nor even by the fear of death, he added the fear of dis- 
honour, saying, * If you still refuse to yield yourself to my wishes, 
I will slay you forthwith, and with you I will slay this naked slave of 

1 88 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvi. 

mine. Then I will declare I found you in adultery with him.' In this 
wise he overcame the obstinate chastity of Lucretia. 

After he had wrought this shameful deed he went his way, and 
Lucretia, sorrow-stricken through so great evil fortune, despatched a 
messenger to Rome to her father Spurius Lucretius, and another to her 
husband, who was with the army encamped round Ardea, begging them 
to come to her at once with their trusty friends, for a fell calamity had 
overtaken her. Spurius Lucretius repaired to Rome with Publius 
Valerius, and Collatinus with Lucius Junius Brutus. They found 
Lucretia sitting woebegone in her chamber, and at the coming of her 
father and her husband the tears rose in her eyes; whereupon her husband 
said, c Are all our goods in safety ? ' and Lucretia replied, * What can 
be safe to the woman who has lost her honour ? In your bed, O Col- 
latinus, there are the traces of another man, if in sooth he who did such 
a brutal deed can be called a man. But my body alone has suffered 
defilement, my soul is scathless, and death shall bear testimony to what 
I say. But first swear to me that my betrayer shall not go unpunished. 
Sextus Tarquinius is the foe, for he last night while under the shelter of 
your roof violated me by force.' All those present gave her their pledge 
and consoled her, withdrawing all blame from her and putting it upon 
the doer of the offence. Then Lucretia said, c You understand what is 
due to him ; but I, what though you clear me of all fault, cannot let 
myself go free of penalty, nor shall any unchaste woman ever live on 
through the instance of Lucretia.' And with these words she drove 
into her heart a dagger which she had hidden in her garments, and 
straightway fell dead. 

The husband and the father at once broke out into lamentation, 
and while they were giving way to their grief Brutus drew from the 
bosom of Lucretia the dagger all dripping with her blood, and over this 
he swore to be avenged, and he made the others swear likewise. Then, 
having taken out the body of Lucretia into the public place, they let 
the people know of Tarquin's wicked deed; and next they went to 
Rome, where, having assembled the citizens, Brutus made a speech 
against Tarquin and his sons, and so powerfully were the people moved 
thereby that they chased Tarquin and his family from the land, and 
swore together that they would never more suffer a king to reign in 
Rome. They made two consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus and Lucius 
Collatinus; and in this fashion the state was regulated, the consuls being 
changed every year. This was the end of the kings of Rome, after the 
state had thus been ruled for 244 years ; and Tarquinius Superbus, after 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 189 

he was driven from Rome, warred mightily against the Romans by the 
aid of Porsena, King of Tuscany. Thus having come against Rome 
with a great army, he took by force that part thereof which is called to- 
day Trastevere, and having advanced with a very powerful column to 
force the passage of the bridge, he would have easily done this, and taken 
the city, if Horatius Codes, a very valiant knight and Roman citizen, 
had not set himself in this supreme peril of the state to guard the bridge 
against the foe, careless of all danger to himself. Such great valour did 
he show in barring the passage to the invaders, that he gave to the 
Romans good time to cut the bridge in the midst thereof, and when the 
brave champion knew this, he jumped with his horse fully armed into 
the Tiber, and in spite of the impediments which vexed him he swam 
across the river and rejoined his comrades. 

But afterwards the Romans prevailed in divers battles, and the 
republic was governed by consuls and by the senate 450 years, and 
during this period arose many changes in the state, and wars, not only 
with adjacent countries, but with all the nations of the world. In the 
end, after great slaughter and ruin, the Romans subdued the whole 
world, and this dominion lasted till the civil wars between Julius Caesar 
and Pompey the Great. After the civil war Cassar ruled alone, calling 
himself emperor, and after him reigned Octavius Augustus, in whose 
time Christ was born, 700 years after the foundation of Rome." 

When the fair Saturnina perceived that the story was come to an 
end, she said, gracefully glancing at Auretto, "I will now sing you 
a song which, in days past, a lover of mine wrote for me, and it is 

Ah, cruel Fate ! thy pity I implore ; 
Let go thy rancour, for I can no more. 

Soften thy savage blasts, nor let them beat 
Upon my shattered bark with strokes so dire, 

Since she who walks the skies with stately feet 
Has laden it with sighs and tears of fire. 
Alas ! that sweet time flies, and my desire, 
Unsatisfied, torments me as of yore. 

Since the first word I spake for her to hear, 

Fortune unkind has plagued me day and night ; 
And if my woeful case I should repair, 

Straightway she pours on me afresh her spite ; 
I spend my weary days a stricken wight, 
Since thou for me no succour hast in store. 

190 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvi. 

Two battling forces urge me to and fro, 

And each one smites me in tempestuous wise ; 

Through violence my case is brought so low, 
I roam the desert in a savage guise. 
The beasts all bid me don their own device, 
And such disgrace doth grieve and irk me sore. 

My song, say nought to mortals tossed about 
By wild cross currents, as hath been my fate; 

1 know those luckless ones, now racked with doubt, 
As I was racked in days unfortunate. 
But if some paladin or hero great 
Should read thee, tell him straight, I can no more. 

Saturnina having brought her song to an end, they clasped hands, 
and thus, sporting pleasantly, they took leave of each other, and departed 
happy in their fortune. 

€fyt g>etoenteentl) 3Dap, 

ft fctscoutfle concerning tfje counttg atrtr tfje ptoer, of tfje Cuscana. 

HEN the lovers went back to their accustomed meeting- 
place on the seventeenth day, Auretto, speaking in very- 
pleasant fashion, began as follows : <c Since it is my 
turn to speak to-day, I will tell you somewhat of the 
country and the power of Tuscany. 

On the eastern side Tuscany begins at the river 
Tiber, which rises in the Apennines, that is, in the mountains of the 
Falterona, and flows by the country of Massa Tribara, Borgo San 
Sepolcro, Citta di Castello, and then to Perugia and Todi, and descend- 
ing through the Sabine and Roman lands, and gathering to itself many 
other streams, it flows through the midst of Rome and enters the sea by 
Ostia, twenty miles from Rome. The part of Rome beyond the Tiber 
is called Trastevere, and in sooth it may be said to serve as the entrance 
to the Church of St. Peter at Rome and of the province of Tuscany. 
On the southern side Tuscany has the Tyrrhenian sea, which likewise 
beats upon the shores of Maremma and Piombino and Pisa, and 
stretches along the regions of Luni and Lucca as far as the mouth of 
the Magra, which enters the sea beyond the point of the mountains of 
Corbo beyond Luni and Serezana. On the western side is the river 
Magra, which flows down from above Pontremoli in the Apennines, 
between the seacoast of Genoa and the territory of Piacenza in Lom- 
bardy, in the marquisate of the Malespini. To the north lie the 
Apennines, which divide it from Lombardy and Bologna and a part of 
Romagna, its boundary line being seven hundred miles long. 

This province has divers rivers : the Arno, which rises, as does the 
Tiber, in the mountains of Falterona, and running through the heart of 

192 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvii. 

Tuscany it passes Casentino and the base of Mount Lavernia, where 
the blessed Francis did penance. And mark here that the hills around 
Casentino are indeed godly places, for therein are three spots famous in 
religion. First, the most holy place on Mount Lavernia, where many 
saints have done penance ; second, the pious and secluded hermitage of 
Camaldoli ; and third, the abbey of Vallombrosa. But to resume, the 
river Arno turns eastward at the foot of Bibbiena, passing three miles 
distant from Arezzo ; then it flows through the upper Val d'Arno, and, 
descending the same, passes through the midst of Florence, and runs 
down through the plain below Signa, and Monte Lupo, and Capraia. 
Next it goes through the lower Val d'Arno, passing through the midst 
of Pisa, and, gathering many other streams, it reaches the sea five miles 
from that city, having measured in its course two hundred miles. Virgil 
names this stream in iEneid VII., in telling of the people who helped 
Turnus against iEneas, * Sarrastes populos, et qua rigat aquora Sarnus? 
Paulus Orosius tells in his history how Hannibal, after passing through 
the intense cold in the Apennines, came down into the marshes of the 
Arno, where he lost all his elephants, and the greater part of his horses 
and cattle ; moreover, he himself from the same cause lost one of his 
eyes. I deem that Hannibal must have descended from the Apennines 
between Modena and Pistoia, and that the marshes aforesaid must have 
been those lying below Florence towards Signa. This also proves that 
Signa and Monte Lupo stood aforetime in the direct course of the river, 
where for a little space it is confined between mountain rocks, where 
there was a mighty rock which was, and still is, called La pietra 
Golfolina, which at that time, by its breadth and height, filled the whole 
course of the river in such wise that it caused a great gathering of 
water near to where Florence now stands. By this stoppage the water 
of the Arno and the Ombrone and the Bisenzio overspread the plain 
below Signa and Settimo as far as Prato; thus all the plain below 
Florence was marsh. 

In after time the Pietra Golfolina was reduced in bulk by certain 
workmen, labouring with pick and chisel ; wherefore the river ran its 
course, and, the marshes being dried up, fruitful land appeared, upon 
which Hannibal pitched his camp. Before that time the province of 
Tuscany had wielded great power. The King of Tuscany, Porsena, who 
ruled at Chiusi, went with Tarquin to the siege of Rome, and was the 
ruler, not only of Tuscany, but of all the country as far as Adria 
in Romagna, a town on the gulf of Venice, which is called the Adriatic 
gulf after the city aforesaid. And towards Lombardy his confines went 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 193 

beyond the Po and the Ticino. The Gauls and the Germans, called 
now the French and the Tedeschi, first entered Italy under the guidance 
of an Italian from Chiusi, who had crossed the mountains as an envoy 
in order to stir up all the barons of Germany to take arms against the 
Romans. He had carried with him some wine, which was not then 
drunk beyond the mountains, forasmuch as no vines grew there, and 
when the chiefs tasted the same it seemed to them very good ; thus, 
amongst other causes, the lust of wine led them on to invade the land, 
when they understood that Italy was well furnished and abounding in 
good things. Moreover, in these lands over the mountains men had 
multiplied so vastly that they could scarcely be contained therein, which 
was another of the reasons of the coming of this people. At the time 
when the Gauls and the Germans entered Italy their leaders were 
Brennus and Belinus, who devastated a great part of Lombardy and the 
Tuscan land, and then laid siege to Rome, which they took all except 
the Capitol. But with all this, before they withdrew they were overthrown 
in Tuscany by the good Camillus, who was then disaffected with the 
Roman power, as Titus Livius writes in his history. Afterwards many 
other chiefs of the Gauls, and Germans, and Goths, and other barbarous 
nations, crossed the Alps from time to time, fighting in Lombardy and 
in Italy divers great battles, as Titus Livius relates. 

Now I am minded to tell you of the Tuscan cities and bishoprics. 
First there is the church and see of St. Peter, which is on the Tuscan 
bank of the Tiber, the bishopric of Fiesole, the city of Florence, the 
city of Pisa, which is also an archbishopric, the city of Lucca, and the 
ancient bishopric of the city of Luni, the cities of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo, 
Perugia, Castello, Volterra, Massa, and Grossetto, the bishopric of 
Suana in Maremma, the ancient cities of Chiusi and Orvieto, the bishopric 
of Bagnoraggio, the cities of Viterbo and Toscanella, the bishopric of 
Castro, the cities of Nepi, Sutri, and Dorti, and the bishopric of Civita 
Rensi. Having set down the names of twenty-five Tuscan bishoprics 
and cities, I will next tell you of the origin of these famous places. 
First, the city of Perugia is very ancient, and, according to its chronicles, 
was built by the Romans in this wise ; to wit, when a certain Roman 
army was returning from Germany, it halted at this spot and built the 
city of Perugia. Arezzo was formerly called Aurelia, a great and noble 
city, wherein in old days the most skilful workmen made vases with 
various inlays and of divers forms ; in sooth, so delicate was the work 
thereof, that those who looked on the same believed not that such things 
could have been wrought by man, and it is so to this day. It is said 

c c 

194 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvn. 

likewise that the air and the site of Arezzo are so healthful that the 
dwellers therein grow wondrous subtle of wit. It was overthrown by 
Attila, flagellum Dei, who ploughed the site and sowed it with salt, and 
from this time forth it has been called Arezzo, that is to say, Civ it as 
Arata. The city of Pisa was formerly called Alfea ; it was a port of 
the Roman empire, whither were carried by sea all the tributes and taxes 
which the kings and nations of the world paid to the empire. There 
they were weighed, and afterwards taken to Rome. And because the 
original place of weighing was not sufficient, they made another ; where- 
fore the name Pisa is declined in grammar only in the plural number. 
Because of the business of the port and the weighing-places, men came 
to abide there and multiplied, and thus arose the city of Pisa some long 
while after the coming of Christ. 

The city of Lucca was first called Fridia, or by other accounts 
Almiga. It was named Fridia because it, first of all the Tuscan cities, 
became Christian, and had for its first bishop San Fridiano, who by a 
miracle caused the Serchio to run near the city, and confined it within 
bounds, because it had been a source of danger and had caused great 
damage to the country. And because this saint first let shine the light 
of faith in Tuscany, they took away from the city its old name, and 
called it Luce, and now, the word being changed and corrupted, it is 
Lucca. The city of Luni, now destroyed, was of great antiquity, and 
by what is written in the history of Troy, ships and armies went from 
Luni to the aid of the Greeks against the Trojans. Then it was 
destroyed by a people living beyond the mountains, because a lady, the 
wife of one of the chiefs thereof, being on her journey to Rome, was 
debauched what time she tarried there; wherefore her husband came 
with an army and overthrew it, and to-day it is a desert and pestilential. 
It is known that the seacoasts were in old times thickly peopled, and 
that most of the inland towns had few inhabitants ; but in Maremma, 
in the coast regions about Rome and the Campagna, were many 
cities which are now come to nought through the deterioration of 
the air, to wit, Popolonia, Suana, Talamone, Grossetto, Civita Vecchia, 
Moscona, Lansedonia, Baia Pompea, Comino, Laurento, and Albania. 
Now as to the reason why all these seacoast regions are desert and 
unwholesome, and even Rome worsened, the great masters of astrology 
declare that it arises through the action of the eighth sphere of the 
heavens, which every hundred years shifts a degree towards the North 
Pole, which motion will continue till it shall have moved fifteen degrees 
in fifteen hundred years ; then it will move back in like fashion, if by 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 195 

God's pleasure the world shall last so long. By this celestial change 
the qualities both of earth and air are changed ; thus, where aforetime it 
was peopled and healthy, it is now deserted and sickly, and vice versa. 
And beyond this, we see that by natural course all worldly things change 
and perish. 

The city of Viterbo was built long ago by the Romans, and was 
called Vergezia, and thither the Romans were wont to send their sick on 
account of the baths which issued from the springs. Wherefore it came 
afterwards to be called Viterbo, that is, life to the infirm, or rather city 
of life. The city of Orvieto was built by the Romans — Urbs Veterum — 
the city of old men, for the old men of Rome were sent there for the 
purer air, so as to keep them in health. The city of Cortona was built 
in the time of Janus and of the first dwellers in Italy, and was then 
called Turna. The city of Chiusi was also of great antiquity and power, 
and built in these same times, long before Rome was. The ruler 
thereof was Porsena, of whom Titus Livius writes. The city of Volterra 
was first called Antona, and is of vast age. It was founded by the 
progeny of Italus, as we read in romance, and hence its lord was called 
Buovo d' Antona. The city of Siena is quite modern, having been begun 
in the year of Christ 670, when Charles Martel, the father of Pepin of 
France, marched with his Frenchmen into the kingdom of Apulia for 
the sake of the Church, and for the conquest of the Arian Lombards, 
whose king, Grimaldo di Morona, held sway at Benevento, and per- 
secuted the Romans and the Church. 

When the allied armies of the Romans and the French came to this 
spot, they left there the aged and the sick and those unfit for arms, so 
as not to take them into Apulia, and so that they might rest. Thus 
they took up their abode there, and they built two shelters in form of 
castles on what is now the highest ground in Siena, for greater 
security, both of which they called Siena, taking this name from the 
aged seniors who were left there by reason of their years. As their 
numbers increased they joined their dwellings, and thus by the rules of 
grammar the city came to be called in the plural, Sena. Amongst the 
people of Siena, as they increased, was a certain comely, rich, and influential 
hostess, called Madonna Veglia, and it chanced that one day a cardinal- 
legate, returning from France, alighted at her inn. The hostess gave 
him very honourable reception, for which she refused to take any pay- 
ment ; whereupon the cardinal, having had such great courtesy at her 
hands, asked her whether he might not procure her some favour from 
the court. The hostess begged him in devout spirit that he would of 

196 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvii. 

his kindness see that Siena might be made a bishopric. The cardinal 
promised to do all he could, and advised her to persuade the commune 
of Siena to send an embassy to the pope, which was duly done. More- 
over, by the entreaties of the legate to the pope on this matter, a bishop was 
granted to Siena, and the first to hold the office was Messer Gualterano ; 
and to endow the bishopric they took a parish from each one of the 
bishoprics of Arezzo, Perugia, Chiusi, Volterra, Grossetto, Massa, 
Orvieto, Fiesole, and Florence, and by these means Siena obtained a 
bishopric, and was called a city. To do honour to Madonna Veglia, by 
whom the favour was first demanded, it was always called Siena La 
Veglia. Wherefore now you may well understand all concerning the 
situation of the cities and bishoprics of Tuscany." 


$oto San Jiflmfato tottf) tubers otfjet saints suffer^ martnrtrom in tfje time 
of Beetus tfje emperor, an* fioto (Eonstantme an* all f)ts people oeeame 

HE foregoing novel being finished, Saturnina began one of 
her own, telling how San Miniato was martyred at Florence 
in the reign of the Emperor Decius. 

"In the year of Christ 252, it chanced that the Emperor 
Decius came to Florence, and having taken up his abode there, he 
held an imperial court and persecuted the Christians at his will, wherever 
he might chance to find them. One day he heard tell how the blessed 
hermit, Miniato, was living with his company and disciples near the city, 
in a wood called Arisbetto Fiorentino, beyond where now his church 
stands. This Miniato was a son of the King of Armenia, who had left 
that kingdom for the faith of Christ, and, in order to do penance, had 
crossed the seas to Rome, and there had betaken himself to this wood, 
which was then very solitary, because Florence had not extended its 
bounds, nor were there houses beyond the Arno over against where 
San Giorgio now stands. There was only the bridge which was 
between Girone and Candagli, called the old bridge of the Fesulians ; it 
was, moreover, the direct road for Rome and Fiesole. Thus, while the 
holy Miniato was doing penance in the wood, Decius caused him to 
be taken — so the legend runs — and offered him rich gifts, meet for 
a king's son, in order to induce him to deny the Christian faith ; but 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 197 

he stood firm and constant, and would have none of the gifts aforesaid ; 
wherefore he was made to suffer divers torments, and at last Decius cut 
off his head at the spot where now stands the church of Santa Candida 
at the Porta alia Croce, a place where many friends of Christ have received 
the martyr's crown. 

After his head was severed, the blessed Miniato, by a miracle of God, 
put it back on his shoulders with his own hands, and went afoot across 
the Arno, and climbed the hill where his church now stands. Then there 
was only a little oratory, called after St. Peter the Apostle, where many 
bodies of saints were buried ; and, when he had come hither, the holy man 
gave up his soul to Christ, and the Christians buried his body privily 
in that same place. After the Florentines became Christians they paid 
him there the most devout service and honour, and built him a church. 

But the great church which is standing to-day, which was dedicated 
in the time of Bishop Aliprando, a Florentine citizen, in the year of 
Christ 1 013, was begun and completed by the beneficence of the holy 
and catholic emperor, Henry II. of Bavaria, and of Santa Cimiconda, his 
wife, who ruled in those days. Moreover, they endowed it with rich 
estates in Florence and the country round, for the good of their souls. 
When the church was finished, they transferred the body of San 
Miniato into a resting-place by the altar which is beneath the vault of 
the church, with great rejoicings by the aforesaid bishop and all the 
clergy and people of Florence. But afterwards this church was finished 
by the Florentines, and they made also the steps in the rock up the side 
of the hill, and directed that this work should be under the care and ward 
of the consuls of Calimala. It came to pass that when Decius abode 
in Florence that he persecuted the blessed Crisco and his disciples, 
Crisco being a gentleman from Germany who had come to do penance 
in the wood of Mugello, where his church now stands, that is, San Cresci 
in Valcava, at which spot he and his followers were martyred by the 
officers of Decius for the faith of Christ, and in this wise many have 
suffered martyrdom. 

The true faith of Christ was first brought to Florence from Rome 
by Frontinus and Paulinus, disciples of the Apostle Peter ; but this was 
done privily, and few dared to avow themselves Christians from fear of 
the officers of the emperor, who were idolaters and persecuted the 
Christians wherever they found them, and they changed not till the times 
of the Emperor Constantine and Pope Sylvester. The truth is, that the 
city of Florence ruled itself under the guardianship of the Roman power 
about three hundred and fifty years after its foundation, observing 

198 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvii. 

the pagan laws and worshipping idols, so that the Christians could 
seldom show themselves openly, but remained hidden in caves and cells 
outside the city. Those who dwelt in the city did not openly profess 
Christianity through fear of the persecution of the Roman rulers. This 
went on till the days of the great Constantine, the son of St. Helena, 
who was the first Christian emperor. He dowered the Church with 
the whole empire of Rome, and gave liberty to the Christians in the 
time of the blessed Pope Sylvester, who baptized him and made him a 
Christian, and cleansed him from leprosy by the power of Christ in this 
wise. Constantine, being afflicted with an incurable leprosy, was advised 
by his physicians to take a bath of the blood of innocent children ; where- 
upon he sent commands through all the city that those women who had 
young children should take them at once to the palace, which was where 
St. John Lateran now stands, when they should receive rich gifts from 
the emperor. Crowds of women with young children at their necks 
went thither, and when they were assembled in the court, where all was 
prepared to cut the throats of the children, great lamentation arose from 
the women as soon as they perceived what was to be done, and they 
began to tear their hair and beat their faces. Constantine, when he 
heard the sound thereof, inquired what was the cause, and they answered, 
f Sire, it is the crying of the mothers of the children whom you have 
had brought here to take their blood.' Constantine considered for a 
moment, and then, overcome by pity, he said, c Please God I will never 
consent to do such a cruel deed for the sake of my health. I would 
sooner die.' And forthwith he sent away the mothers and their 
children, having giving them what had been promised ; and so he did 
this compassionate deed. 

So greatly was Christ pleased with Constantine's pity, that in that 
same night Peter and Paul appeared in a vision, and spake thus to the 
emperor : f If you desire to be healed, send for Sylvester, the pope of 
the Christians, who dwells outside Rome on Monte Soradte.' The 
vision having disappeared, and Constantine awakened, he sent to 
Soradte for Sylvester, and when he had come, spake thus to him, * My 
father, I have seen this night a vision in this wise : two men, one aged, 
and the other with a beard, said to me, that if I wished to be healed, I 
should send for thee, which thing I have done.' Then Sylvester replied, 
* Wouldst thou recognize these two who came to thee ? ' And Con- 
stantine said that he would ; whereupon Sylvester sent for a small tablet 
on which were painted the effigies of St. Peter and St. Paul, and showed 
it to the emperor, who cried, ' Certes, these are the men ; they were made 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 199 

exactly like these.' Then Sylvester began to consider whether this 
might not be some of God's handiwork, and said to Constantine that if 
he was minded to be healed, it behoved him to become a Christian with 
all his people, whereunto Constantine agreed. And thus it came to 
pass that Sylvester made him enter naked a large vessel of water, which 
water he blessed ; whereupon, by a divine mystery, Constantine was 
healed of his leprosy, and through this sign of grace became a Christian, 
and built many churches in Rome in honour of Christ, and destroyed 
the pagan temples. He likewise confirmed the liberties of the Church, 
and granted all the temporalities of the empire in return for a tribute. 
Moreover, he went to reside at Constantinople, a city in Thrace upon the 
Bosphorus, which he filled with fine buildings and other ornaments. 
Heretofore it had been called Byzantium, but now he called it after his 
own name, and made it a place of great state and power, fixing his 
abode there, and leaving in Rome his vicars to keep the city and the 
empire by arms. 

After Constantine, who reigned at Rome and at Constantinople 
more than thirty years, came his three sons. The first was called Con- 
stantine after his father, the second Constantius, and the third Constans ; 
and between these three great wars and discords arose. One of these, 
Constantine, was a Christian, but Constantius persecuted the Christians, 
and was infected with a form of heresy promulgated by a certain Arius, 
which began at Constantinople, and was known as the Arian heresy, 
and through the same many errors were spread abroad in the Church of 
God all over the world. By their dissensions these sons of Constantine 
wrought great evil to the empire, and wellnigh let it go to ruin; indeed, 
from this time forth it seemed always to fall back and decline, and to 
lose its power. Two or three emperors would reign at the same time, 
one ruling at Rome and another at Constantinople, one a Christian and 
the other an Arian persecuting the Christians and the Church all through 
Italy. At the time when the great Constantine became a Christian, and 
Sylvester was openly Pope of Rome, the faith of Christ was spread into 
Tuscany; then it was carried all over Italy, and then into all the world. 
In Florence they began to live in the true faith of Christ and to forswear 
paganism in the days of a holy bishop sent there by Pope Sylvester. In 
the city there was a temple dedicated to the god Mars, and the image of 
the god which stood therein was carried forth and placed on a tower 
close to the Arno ; and the Florentines were careful neither to break nor 
injure it, nor place it in unseemly situation, for ancient tradition said 
that this image of Mars had been consecrated under certain starry 

zoo j SER GIOVANNI. [day xvii. 

influences which were of such nature that, should the image aforesaid be 
set up in base surroundings, great danger and loss and revolution would 
fall upon the city of Florence. And for all that the Florentines became 
Christians they kept many of their pagan customs for a long time, and 
held in great respecl: their ancient statue of Mars, 1 being very unsteady 
in the faith. The temple aforesaid was dedicated to the glory of God 
and of the blessed St. John the Baptist, and it was ordained that 
there should be celebrated therein a solemn function on the nativity of 
the saint, and a race run for a prize of a velvet mantle. 2 

In the midst of the church the baptismal fonts were set in order in 
which infants are baptized on Holy Saturday, and in these fonts they 
blessed the baptismal water, and they blessed fire as well, which fire they 
commanded to be strewn about the city, as it was done in Jerusalem, and 
that a minister should go through every house with a lighted torch. And 
from this ceremony arose a certain office of dignity, which in time 
became vested in one of the chief families of the city, that of the Pazzi, 
for an ancestor of the same named Pazzo, a man strong and tall in 
stature, bore a larger torch than anyone else, and was the first who took 
up the holy fire, all the others following his example. The church 
aforesaid was enlarged, after it was dedicated to Christ, in that part 
where now are to be found the choir and the altar of St. John the 
Baptist. But when the church was the temple of Mars it had neither 
the turret nor the great stone above, but was open at the top, like the 
church of Santa Maria Rotonda at Rome, so that the statue of Mars, 
which stood in the centre thereof, might have no covering but the sky. 
In after times, when Florence was built a second time, 1 1 50 years after 
Christ, a turret borne upon columns was placed above, and the stone 
cover was made of gold. According to the report of those who have 
scoured the world, this church is the fairest that is or ever was, as far 
as the memory of man goeth." 3 

When the novel was finished Auretto said, " This story has assuredly 
pleased me mightily, and now I will sing you a canzonet," and he sang 
as follows : 

1 This statue was standing on a column at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio in Dante's 
time. It was swept away by a flood of the Arno in 1333. In Ser Giovanni's time 
its site was used as a fish market, and there Buondelmonte was slain. Vide Day VIII., 
Novel I. 

2 The corsa del pallio at Verona is alluded to by Dante, Inferno, xv. 

3 "Mio bel San Giovanni." — Dante, Inferno, xix. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 201 

No one may look to me for boon or ruth, 

For one I loved hath broken faith with me. 
My heart I gave to a most noble youth, 

And deemed he loved me well and faithfully; 
In loyal faith I gave my heart and soul, 

And now I go forsaken and alone. 
She is forsooth a simpleton and fool, 

Who trusts the word and troth of anyone. 
Into my soul a conqueror he came, 

And to his beauty I became the slave. 
My heart was melted in the rapturous flame ; 

Wherefore to him my maidenhead I gave. 
Now he hath fled, after this cruel geste, 
And none may know the grief that rends my breast. 

Ye ladies who are sworn in Love's sweet band, 

I bid you all take lesson from my woe. 
Nathless no other one shall hold my hand, 

Save him who ruthless from my arms did go ; 
But should I see him to my side returning, 

I'd say a woman must be fool and blind, 
However fierce the fires of love were burning, 

To trust her welfare to his fickle mind. 
Go now, my song, go forth and tell my pain 

To all who piteous are for those who mourn ; 
Tell them the love I gave and give again 

Hath failed me, and hath left me all forlorn. 
But if I might in his dear arms have slept, 
My faith with him I ever would have kept. 

When the canzonet was finished the lovers brought to an end for 
that day their pleasant interview, and, taking each other by the hand, 
bade farewell and joyfully departed. 

D D 

Clje 6tgl)teentf) 2Dap, 






Concerning certain femgs of Stain, anb tofjat treeta t^eg torougljt 

S soon as the two lovers had returned to the convent 
parlour on the eighteenth day, Saturnina began her 
novel in these words: 

ft As I have said already, the imperial crown of 
Rome remained with the rulers of France for about 
a hundred years, during which time seven French 
emperors ruled, that is to say, from Charles the Great to Arnolfo, who 
was the last of the Franks. By reason of the prevailing discord the 
power of France and of Germany as well was brought to nought, and 
these kingdoms were helpless to aid the Church and the Roman people 
against the warlike Lombards. On this account it was ordained 
that the imperial power and dignity should be taken away from the 
French, and it was therefore transferred to the Italians by decree, 
the first Italian emperor being Louis, the son of the King of Apulia, 
and sprung on his mother's side from that Louis who was the 
second of the Frankish emperors. He was crowned in the year of 
Christ 90 1, 1 and reigned six years. He warred against Berengar, who 
then held sway in Italy, and drove him out ; but he was afterwards taken 
prisoner at Verona and blinded, whereupon Berengar was restored to 
power and made emperor in Italy. Berengar reigned four years, and was 
a skilful warrior, fighting many battles against the Romans ; and in his 
days a certain Conrad of Saxony was King of the Romans in Germany, 
and besides this ruler of the Franks ; so that one of these reigned in 

He was crowned in 899. But in this story Ser Giovanni's chronology becomes 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 203 

Italy and the other in Germany. In these days the Saracens invaded 
Italy, devastating Apulia and Calabria, scattering themselves abroad 
and ravaging divers regions up to the walls of Rome, but, having been 
repulsed by the Romans, they retired into Apulia. 

After Conrad his son Henry, Duke of Saxony, ruled Germany, and 
this Henry was father of Otho I., the first emperor in Germany ; and 
he was over-lord of Italy, and was consecrated by the Pope after 
Berengar I., who had ruled as emperor in Italy. Berengar II. reigned 
for eight years, what time Pope John X. of Tosigliano and his brother 
the Marquis Alberico marched into Apulia against the Saracens, whom 
they met in battle by the river Garigliano, and happily overcame them, 
and rescued Apulia from them. But on returning to Rome strife arose 
between the pope and the marquis, who was driven out of the city, and, 
having fled to Hungary, he spitefully brought into Italy a vast horde 
of Hungarians, who laid waste almost all Tuscany and the Roman states, 
killing men and women and carrying off treasure. But the Romans 
drove them out at last, and afterwards they invaded Hungary every year, 
warring against the people. King Lothaire reigned about seven years, 
and great strife arose in Italy during his time, for the city of Genoa 
was destroyed by the Saracens from Africa in the year of Christ 932, 
the people being slain and the treasure carried away. The year before 
this happened, a fountain which flowed with blood sprang forth in the 
city, which was a portent of the ruin which befell. After Lothaire 
Berengar III. and Albert his son reigned in Italy for eleven years. 
These were Romans, and their sway was harsh, for they laid in hold 
Alvenda, the widow of the dead Lothaire, in order that she should not 
marry some ruler who might take from them the empire ; wherefore 
Otho, King of Germany, at the prayer of the pope and the Church, 
on account of the strife between Berengar and the Romans and of his 
tyranny, marched into Italy with a great force, and, having driven out 
Berengar, he took the empress aforesaid out of prison and married her 
at Pavia. Otho forgave Berengar, and gave him the lordship of Lom- 
bardy, except the Mark of Treviso, Verona, and Aquileia, and then, 
having returned to Germany, he overthrew the Hungarians in divers 
battles and reduced them under his sway. 

But while he tarried in Germany the Albert aforesaid, son of 
Berengar, supported by a following of Roman nobles, raised his son 
Ottaviano to the papacy, by high-handed power, under the title of 
John XI., and this pope proved to be a man of evil life, keeping women 
publicly, and hunting and fowling as if he had been a layman, and working 

204- SER GIOVANNI. [day xviii. 

even greater iniquities than these. Wherefore the cardinals and clergy 
of Rome, and divers of the Italian nobles, moved by the shame of the 
pope's carriage as a churchman, and by the evil doings of Berengar in 
Lombardy, sent ambassadors privily to Otho, King of Germany, begging 
him to return to Italy to call the pope to account, and to set right the 
government, which Berengar and Albert were bringing to ruin. Otho 
entered Lombardy with a vast army, and having captured Berengar sent 
him a prisoner to Bavaria, where he brought his life to a miserable end. 
Albert fled the country, and Pope John was thrust out of the papacy, 
this being the end of the rule of Berengar and Albert his son in Italy, 
which rule had lasted fifty-four years under six emperors, after the French 
were made to quit. And henceforth no emperor ruled in Italy, and the 
empire returned to Germany in the year of Christ 955. In these days 
the Church was sorely vexed, for sometimes there would be one pope, 
sometimes two, and sometimes three, one chasing out another and either 
slaying him or putting out his eyes, according to his superior strength, 
or the support of the reigning emperor, or of the powerful nobles of 
Rome, or of the various rulers of Italy. In any case the Church under- 
went long tribulation. 

It came to pass that Otho, King of Germany, having deposed Pope 
John for his wicked deeds, caused Pope Leo VIII. to be chosen, and a 
decree to be made that henceforth no pope should be elected without 
the assent of the emperor. Then Otho was ele&ed emperor and con- 
secrated by Pope Leo in the year of Christ 955, granting rich endow- 
ment to the Church. This Otho was of the Saxon house ; he reigned as 
emperor twelve years, doing many and great things for the exaltation of 
the Church and giving peace to all Italy, and this done he returned to 
Germany with his wife Alvenda, who bore him a son whom he called by 
his own name, and this prince became Otho II. After he had gone 
back to Germany Pope Leo was deposed by the evil-disposed Romans, 
who put in his place Pope Benedict V. ; and Otho, having heard report 
of this, marched from Germany with a great host, with which he besieged 
Rome. In the end he captured Pope BenedicT:, and sent him a prisoner 
to Germany, where he died in wretchedness. He restored Pope Leo 
and gave peace to all Italy, and hereby raised many of his barons to 
great wealth and power, amongst whom were the Counts Guidi, the first 
of whom was named Guido, and him the emperor made count palatine 
and gave him the county of Modigliana in Romagna, where the Guidi 
lived as lords of all Romagna till they were expelled by reason of their 
ill deeds, save one youth, Guido Besague, so called because all his 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 205 

kinsfolk died a bloody death, 1 who was made lord of Casentino by 
the Emperor Otho. He it was who took to wife at Florence the 
Countess Gualdrada, 2 daughter of Belincone Berti di Ravignano, 
an honourable citizen. And it likewise happened that Otho I., 
through his love for Florence, gave thereto all the country within a 
circuit of six miles ; and when he went back to Germany, divers 
of his barons became Florentine citizens, amongst whom were that 
Hubert from whom afterwards sprang the house of the Uberti, and 
Lambert from whom the Lamberti are descended. After the death 
of Otho I., Otho II., his son, was made emperor, and he reigned 
fifteen years. Pope John XIII., 3 who had crowned Otho II., was seized 
by the prefect Peter and thrown into the castle of St. Angelo, but Otho 
restored him to the papacy, and punished with a cruel death many of 
the Romans who had been concerned in this deed. In this reign the 
Saracens seized Calabria, and the emperor marched against them with a 
great army of Romans, Germans, Lombards, Tuscans, and Apulians, 
but through ill-conduct, and the flight of the Romans and the men of 
Beneventum, Otho was defeated, and great hurt was done to the 
Christian cause. He himself was taken by Greek pirates, but he induced 
them by craft to take him to Sicily, where he was recognized and con- 
trived to escape from his captors. He next laid siege to Beneventum, 
which he took and destroyed, and carried to Rome the body of St. Bar- 
tholomew, with the intention of taking the same into Saxony, but he died 
in Rome, and soon after his son, Otho III., was elected and crowned by 
Pope Gregory V., in the year of Christ 979. He reigned nineteen years ^ 
and, having restored peace to Italy, he returned into Germany. Cres- 
centius, consul of Rome, drove out Pope Gregory, and put in his place 
a very learned Greek, who was Bishop of Piacenza. When Otho heard 
this, he marched from Germany with a great army, and, having entered 
Rome, he laid hands upon Crescentius, whom he beheaded, and upon the 
pope whom Crescentius had set up under the name of John XVI. He 
cut off the pope's hands, and tore out his eyes, and restored Pope 
Gregory. Then, having left Rome and all Italy in peace, he returned to 
Germany, where he made a good end. 

There had come from the parts beyond Brandenburg a certain 

1 Boccaccio speaks of him as Guido Beisangue. 

* Dante, Inferno, xvi. The father of Gualdrada, Belincone Berti, is mentioned in 
Paradiso, xv., and Villani speaks of him as one of the best and most honoured gen- 
tlemen of Florence. 

3 Orig., " terzo." 

206 SER GIOVANNI. [day xvm. 

Marquis Hugh, who remained in Florence as the vicar imperial, and, 
because the situation of the city pleased him greatly, he sent for his wife 
to join him there. It came to pass that, by God's will, he went hunting 
in the region of Buonsollazzo, and while in the woods he wandered away 
from his people, and seemed to see before him in a vision a workshop, 
wherein were working divers men, deformed and strange to look upon. 
He saw that these were putting certain others to the torture of the 
scourge, and, having inquired as to what this might be, he was told that 
those under torment were damned souls, and moreover that the soul of 
the Marquis Hugh was damned to a similar fate on account of his 
unclean life, unless he should repent and turn from his evil ways. 
Stricken with fear he commended himself to the Virgin, and, the vision 
having vanished, his soul was so smitten with remorse that on his return 
to Florence he sold all his goods, and his wife's as well, and founded 
seven abbeys with the price thereof. The first was Santa Maria 
in Florence ; the second, Buonsollazzo, where he beheld the vision ; the 
third, Arezzo ; the fourth, Poggibonsi ; the fifth, Verucula di Pisa ; the 
sixth, Citta di Castello, and the seventh, Settimo. To all these he gave 
rich endowment, and with his wife he lived a life of holiness, begetting 
no children, and when he died he was buried in the abbey at Florence. 
On the death of Otho III. it seemed good to the pope and cardinals 
and nobles of Rome that the imperial power should be conferred by the 
choice of the Germans, seeing that they were on the'spot and were the bul- 
wark of the Christian cause. This having been confirmed by the Church 
was held worthy of approval, and seven electors of the empire were 
nominated by decree, and to these alone was given the power of electing 
the emperor. The first was the Bishop of Mainz, the chancellor of 
the empire; the second, the Archbishop of Trier, the chancellor in 
Gaul; the third, the Archbishop of Cologne; the fourth, the Marquis 
of Brandenburg, the chamberlain ; the fifth, the Duke of Saxony, who 
carried the sword of empire ; the sixth was the Count Palatine of the 
Rhine, and the seventh, the King of Bohemia, without whose voice no 
election was valid. Now I am minded to tell you of all the emperors 
who have lived from that time till now, and how long they reigned, and 
briefly to compare one with another. After Otho III. died, the electors 
chose Henry I., Duke of Bavaria. He was of the blood of Charles the 
Great, and was elected in the year of Christ iooo. He reigned twelve 
years, and played a bold part in all fighting of the time, and converted 
to the faith of Christ, King Stephen of Hungary and all his people, 
giving him his sister to wife. After Henry's death Conrad I. was 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 207 

chosen as emperor, and consecrated by Benedict VIII., in the year of 
Christ 1015. He was Duke of Swabia, and reigned twenty years in 
peace, being a just man, and after him came Henry II., 1 who is said to 
have been his son, but he was really son-in-law of Conrad, and son of 
Count Leopold, the Palatine of Bavaria, nephew of Henry I. This 
Henry was elected in the year of Christ 1040, and reigned seventeen 
years, having been crowned by Pope Clement II. This emperor raised 
the pope aforesaid to the papacy by force, and after his death Henry 
III., the son of the afore-mentioned Henry of Bavaria, became emperor 
in the year of Christ 1055, and reigned twelve years. 

In this emperor's reign divers strange things came to pass in the 
world, great famines and pestilences ; and this Henry III. made Victor, 
a German, pope by force, and was in all things the foe of the Church. 
After him was elected his son, Henry IV., in the year 1107, who 
reigned fifteen years, and he was the enemy of the Church, and the last 
emperor of the Bavarian house. After him came Frederic Barbarossa, 
of the house of Swabia, who was crowned at Rome by Pope Adrian IV. 
in the year of Christ 1 1 54, and reigned thirty -seven years. He was 
generous and noble-minded and fortunate in his enterprise ; and during 
his lifetime his son, Henry, was elected King of the Romans and was 
crowned by Pope Celestine in the year 1 1 92, bringing to pass divers 
worthy deeds in his time. On the death of Henry great discords arose 
amongst the electors, and one part thereof elected Philip, Duke of Swabia, 
Henry's brother, and the other, Otho, Duke of Saxony, and, had it not 
been for the favour shown by the pope to Otho, Philip would have been 
elected. Thus he lost the empire because he was the brother of Henry, 
who had vexed the Church, and Otho was crowned King of the Romans 
in the year of Christ 1 203. This Otho was very wicked, and, having 
been pronounced an enemy of the Church, was deposed by a general 
council, and the Church ordered the electors to choose as King of the 
Romans the young Frederic, King of Sicily, who was then in Germany, 
instead of Otho. This Otho, having sailed over seas to Damietta, died 
there ; whereupon Frederic repaired to Rome and was crowned King of 
the Romans by Pope Honorius III. in the year 1220. Now, as he 
proved an enemy of the Church, he was deposed from his title, and the 
pope sent word to the electors to elect another King of the Romans; 
whereupon they chose William, Earl of Ireland, a gallant prince who 
waged long wars with the son of Frederic ; but when he died the empire 

1 This is the emperor who is said to have founded San Miniato in Florence, vide 
preceding novel. The dates are quite different in the two stories. 

208 SER GIOVANNI. [day xviii. 

remained long time vacant, and at Jast the electors chose two emperors. 
Three of them chose Alfonso of Spain, and the others declared for 
Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the brother of the King of England, but the 
pope favoured Alfonso because he had come with his army to oppose 
the pretensions of Manfred. 

Next King Rudolf of Germany was made King of the Romans; but 
he went not to Rome to receive the pope's blessing, but spent his time 
over his rule at home, caring not to interfere in Italian affairs. He died 
in the year 1 29 1 , and in his place the electors chose Adolf, Count of 
Nassau, a German, but he did not live to enjoy the dignity of emperor, 
for he was slain in battle by Albert, Duke of Austria, son of Rudolf, in 
the year of Christ 1299. Albert, having overthrown Adolf, caused 
himself to be chosen King of the Romans, and to be confirmed by Pope 
Boniface ; and in the year 1308, after King Albert's death, the electors 
were once more in conflict over the choice of an emperor. The King 
of France, now that the empire was vacant, deemed that his plans and 
intentions might be brought to pass with little trouble, on account of a 
promise which Pope Clement had secretly made when the king aforesaid 
had helped him to the papacy ; so, having assembled his privy council 
and Charles of Valois, his brother, he laid bare his plans and the desire 
he had so long felt to procure the election of Charles as King of the 
Romans. When he had placed the whole issue before them, he asked 
for their advice; whereupon all his council encouraged him to attempt 
this enterprise, and advised him to employ over the same all his own 
resources, and those of the crown and the kingdom to boot, in order to 
accomplish the same, both for the honour of Messer Charles of Valois, 
who was well worthy thereof, and in order that the imperial dignity 
might be restored to the French. When the king and Messer Charles 
were informed of the good will and support of their councillors, they 
rejoiced greatly, and it was settled that the king and Messer Charles, 
with a great force of barons and knights, should repair to the pope's 
court at Avignon before the Germans should hold another election, 
and show by word and deed that their coming was the result of the 
decree which had been issued against the memory of Pope Boniface, 
and demand of the pope the fulfilment of his secret promise, to wit, 
the election and confirmation of Charles of Valois as emperor. To 
a proposition backed by such force as this, none of the cardinals would 
refuse to consent. 

Thus he gave command to all his barons and knights to get them 
in order, forasmuch as he was minded to go visit the pope at Avignon, 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 209 

and he issued like orders to the Seneschal of Provence ; wherefore his 
host numbered more than six thousand knights. But, seeing it was 
God's pleasure that the Church should not be made subject to the house 
of France, news of this movement was brought secretly to the pope ; 
whereupon he, fearing the approach of the king and his host, and 
recalling the promise he had made — which in sooth was mightily 
hurtful to the liberties of the Church — took counsel privily with the 
Cardinal of Prato, and told him how he was wroth with the King 
of France by reason of his excessive demands. The cardinal made 
answer, c Holy Father, there is but one remedy for this ; to wit, that, 
before the King of France shall prefer his demand, you send secret 
instructions to the German princes and command them forthwith to 
elect an emperor.' The pope was much pleased with this advice, 
and said, c Whom shall we send as envoy to bid the electors choose 
an emperor according to our will, and whom shall we suggest as 
emperor ? ' Then the cardinal, who was a far-seeing man and anxious, 
not so much for the liberties of the Church, as for his own interests and 
for the revival of the Ghibelline cause in Italy, said, ' I deem the Count 
of Luxembourg is at this time the best man in all Germany ; the most 
loyal and honest, and the best Catholic to boot, and I doubt not if he 
should be chosen emperor that he will prove obedient to the Church 
and one from whom great things may be expected.' These words met 
the pope's approval on account of the good name which the count bore, 
and he said, c But how can we bring about this election by sending 
letters under our private seal about which the college shall know nothing.' 
Then the cardinal replied, ' Write to him, and to all the electors, 
letters under your secret seal, and I will write likewise to them, setting 
forth more fully what is your will, which letter I will send by a servant 
of mine,' and it was done as the cardinal advised. 

By God's will, when the messengers arrived in Germany and the letters 
were opened, the electors at once made choice of Henry of Luxembourg 
as King of the Romans, which election came about through the busy 
working of the Cardinal of Prato, who had written in this wise : f See 
that you agree to elect this prince ; if you fail in this the election will 
end in the transfer of the empire to the French.' After the election 
the tidings thereof were carried to France, and to the papal court; 
whereupon the King of France saw that he had been duped, and let go 
his friendship for the pope. In the same year, after the election of 
Henry of Luxembourg, he was consecrated emperor by the pope, and 
he proved to be a wise prince, skilful and courteous, and steady in war- 

E E 

2io SER GIOVANNI. [day xviii. 

fare ; moreover, he was crowned with his sword in his hand, and he laid 
siege to many places in Tuscany, attacking Florence with especial 
vigour, and setting his camp at San Salvi and at San Cassano. He was 
a great foe to King Robert, and after working many great deeds in 
Tuscany he marched to Pisa in order to return to his kingdom, but he 
died at Buonconvento, which is twelve miles from Siena, in the year of 
Christ 13 13, on St. Bartholomew's day. After the death of Henry 
great strife arose in Germany by reason of the wars between the Dukes 
of Austria and Bavaria, both of whom were elected Kings of the 
Romans. Their forces were set one against the other for some time on 
the banks of the Rhine, and with them, on one side or the other, were 
assembled almost all the chivalry of Germany ; but in the end they 
struck camp without fighting, because the Duke of Bavaria could not 
support the charges of the campaign. Shortly afterwards he worsted 
in the field the Duke of Austria, and, having been elected King of 
the Romans, he went to Italy, and was crowned emperor at Rome, 
taking the title of 'the Bavarian.' After him came Charles IV., 
King of Bohemia, who as everyone knows has been deposed. So now 
you have heard of all those elected, and all those who came to receive 
the benediction as emperors after the empire passed to the Germans. 
And indeed the first of these was John of Bohemia, but he did not 
receive the blessing aforesaid." 


<©f tf)e lineage of tfie OTountess iftattitoa, 1 fjet ridjess, tfje ouUfctngs sf)e etecteti, 

anfc tyx marriage an* oeatf). 

ATURNINA having finished her novel, Auretto began and 
said, " I will now tell you of a lady of great worth, who was 
called the Countess Matilda," and thus he began : 

" The mother of the Countess Matilda was the daughter 
of the Emperor of Constantinople, who had at his court a certain Italian 
gentleman of gracious manners and high birth, skilled in arms and 
kindly and courteous to all. This gentleman began to have great 
regard for the daughter of the emperor, and finally wedded her in 

This is mythical. The true version is to be found in the paper on Canossa in 
Symonds' " Sketches and Studies in Italy." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 211 

matrimony. Then, having taken certain jewels and precious stones 
and all the money they could lay hands on, they withdrew privily from 
Constantinople and landed in Italy, and next betook themselves to the 
bishopric of Reggio in Lombardy. From this union the great Countess 
Matilda was born, and the father of the lady, the Emperor of Con- 
stantinople, having no other children, searched far and nigh for her 
before he could find her, and, when the searchers found her, they told 
her that it behoved her to return forthwith, and they besought her 
earnestly to consent, saying that her father was minded to marry her 
to some great prince. But to this she replied, ' This is he whom I 
desire beyond all other, and I can on no account leave him. Should 
he die I would never wed another man.' 

When these words were reported to the emperor he sent straightway 
letters confirming the marriage ; he sent also untold money, bidding 
them buy therewith towns and villages at any price, and erect new 
buildings, which was duly done. The lady built an impregnable fortress 
which she called Canossa, and here afterwards the Countess Matilda 
erected a monastery and endowed it. She built afterwards many other 
religious houses and many bridges over the rivers of Lombardy, and in 
Garfagnana ; in the bishopric of Modena she held great possessions, and 
in the Bolognese, Arzelata and Medicina, large and spacious towns, and 
all these were part of her patrimony. She had many castles in Tuscany, 
where divers nobles became her vassals, and she built numerous churches 
and cathedrals, and endowed the same. The Countess Matilda, being 
heiress of all this, resolved to marry, and, having heard reports of the 
fame and goodness and excellent parts of the Duke of Swabia, who was 
called Guelf, she sent a solemn embassy with lawful powers to him in 
order that the parties, as it happened that the principals would not be 
present, might confirm a treaty of marriage between herself and him ; 
that they might ratify the treaty and name the place where the ring 
should be given and the nuptials celebrated : and the place they fixed 
upon was the noble castle of the Counts of Cinesi, which castle is now 
destroyed. When Duke Guelf of Swabia came to the castle aforesaid, 
the Countess Matilda went to meet him with a great following of 
knights, and afterwards the nuptials were celebrated with merriment 
and jocund feasting. But sadness full soon followed this rejoicing 
through lack of offspring, which in sooth is declared to be the special 
purpose of marriage, forasmuch as Guelf was not able to have carnal 
knowledge of his wife, or of any other woman, through the coldness of 
his nature, or through some other impediment. And Guelf, wishing to 

2 12 SER GIOVANNI. [day xviii. 

defend himself from this disgrace, declared to his wife that the evil had 
come upon him through witchcraft, practised against him by some who 
were envious of his happy lot. But the Countess Matilda, full of faith 
in God and in all truthful men, understanding nought as to these malefic 
arts, feeling herself neglected, and full of distrust as to her husband, gave 
orders that the furniture and couches and raiment and all other things 
should straightway be cleared out of her bed-chamber, and a bare table 
set forth instead. Then, having called for her husband, she stripped 
herself naked of all her clothes, and let down her hair, and said, c There 
can be no witchcraft here ; wherefore come and do your duty as a 
husband.' But when he failed therein the countess said, ' Thou hast 
schemed to work imposture on my high estate, but for the sake of my 
honour I will pardon thee ; but I bid thee depart without delay and 
return to thine own place. If thou shouldst fail to do my command thou 
wilt assuredly stand in peril of thy life.' He, overcome with fear and 
confessing the truth, made haste to return to Swabia, and the countess, 
distrustful as to the burdens of matrimony and holding her peace, led 
henceforth a life of chastity, giving her mind to pious things, that is to 
say, she built many churches and hospitals. This Countess Matilda 
made a will offering the whole of her patrimony on the altar of St. 
Peter, and appointing the Church of Rome her heir. Shortly afterwards 
she died at peace with God, and was buried in the church which she had 
built and endowed so magnificently. She died in the year of Christ 
1 114, and has ever been held to be the most potent and worthy lady of 
her time." 

When Saturnina had brought her novel to an end, she sang in very 
pleasing fashion the song which follows : 

What graceful moods these ladies manifest 
Who fain would shine more lovely than the rest. 

Such gracious signs they make with nod and beck 

To win their lover's glance as they go by. 
Of what they spend in gauds they nothing reck, 

So they may seem sunk in Love's ecstasy. 

And these are they who catch the roving eye, 
For that so nimble is each glance and geste. 

A mantle French, a cloak of country size, 

Girt at the waist as men are wont to go ; 
Broidered with stitches long in German wise, 
All clean and neat like ermine white as snow. 
At dames like these Love draws his choicest bow, 
Whose faces are with star-like beauty blest. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 213 

Masks wear they 'neath their hoods, and mantles short, 

For ladies meet who ride with horse and hound ; 
And 'cross their bosoms handkerchiefs are brought, 
And lovely breasts, in English fashion bound. 
The gayest there, I wis, her freshness found, 
Because she was in that sweet band imprest. 

Now go, my song, to that flower-blessed city, 
Where fair and loving ladies chiefly dwell ; 
Say why, and say to whom, I write my ditty : 
To widows, damsels, married dames, as well ; 
That in their present guise they far excel 
The beauty wherewith they have heretofore been drest. 

After the canzonet had been sung, the lovers brought their conver- 
sation to an end for that day, and each one departed glad at heart. 

%\>t JlStneteenfl) 2Daj>. 










Cfje lEmpetor .jFrefceric barbarossa toages tear against $ope &leran*er tfie 
SHjirto, tofjereupon tfje pope goes to dfrance anto excommunicates tfje 
emperor. <&f tfje tears toagefc against tfie (ftfjurcf), anto tfie princes tofio 
supported tfie pope. &fter fibers ebents, dFretoertc enoeabours to mafce 
peace tottf) tfie (ftfmrcf), an*, as an atonement, goes ober seas (or tfie 
rescue of tfie 3&oig UanTi. 

S soon as the two lovers returned on the nineteenth day 
to their wonted meeting-place, Auretto said, " My 
Saturnina, since it is my turn to begin, I will tell you 
how the Emperor Frederic, called Barbarossa, was 
elected, being the first emperor of the Swabian house. 
After the death of Conrad of Saxony, King of the 
Romans, Frederic, called Barbarossa, and known besides as Frederic 
the Great, was chosen emperor. He himself possessed two electoral 
votes, wherefore he voted for and made himself emperor. Then he went 
to Italy and was crowned at Rome by Pope Adrian IV. in the year 
1 1 54, and reigned as emperor thirty-seven years. On the day of his 
coronation a great broil arose between the Romans and his following in 
the Prato di Nerone, where his camp was pitched, which broil proved 
a grievous hurt to the Romans, forasmuch as all the houses around the 
entrance of St. Peter's were burnt, that is to say, all the quarter about 
St. Peter's. Then, when the emperor returned to his Lombard dominions 
in the first year of his reign, because the city of Spoleto had denied its 
obedience to him as being subject to the Church, he took the field and 
overcame and destroyed the place because it had concerned itself with 
the rights of the Church, and so he made of the Church an enemy. 
After the death of Pope Adrian, Pope Alexander III. of Siena was 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 215 

elected, and ruled twelve years, and because he was set to maintain 
the rights of the Church he was forced to war against Frederic. On 
this account the emperor raised up against him four schismatic anti- 
popes, one after the other, three of whom were cardinals. The first 
was Antonianus, who took the name of Victor; the second was Guido 
of Cremona, called Pascal ; the third was Giovanni Stamense, called 
Calixtus ; and the fourth Landone, who was called Innocent. Where- 
fore great divisions and evils afflicted the Church of God, because these 
antipopes, through the support of Frederic, held all the power, and none 
remained to Pope Alexander. But he fought bravely against them, and 
excommunicated them, and they all made a bad end. But while they 
were bearing rule with Frederic's help, Pope Alexander could not 
maintain himself in Rome ; wherefore he repaired to the court of France, 
where King Louis received him graciously. The story runs in France 
that, as the pope journeyed by stealth, with a small following, and 
in the garb of an obscure prelate, when he was come to St. Maur, near 
Paris, a voice was heard, as by a miracle from heaven, crying out, 
' Behold the pope, behold the pope ! ' and all the bells in the towers 
began to ring, what though no tidings of the pope's coming had been 
spread in the land. Whereupon the king and all the clergy and people 
of Paris went forth to meet him, at which the pope marvelled, seeing 
that no man knew of his approach, and, having thanked God, he laid 
bare to the king and the people the reason of his coming. The pope 
held a council at Paris and excommunicated Frederic, and deposed him 
from the empire, and absolved from their oaths all his barons ; more- 
over, he deposed all those of the house of Colonna at Rome, so that 
neither they nor their successors might ever enjoy their rank, for that 
they had supported Frederic against the Church. In this council all the 
kings and nobles of the west joined with the King of France in pledging 
themselves to aid the Church against the Emperor Frederic, and thereby 
they stirred up certain cities of Lombardy, Milan, Cremona, and 
Piacenza, which revolted and adhered to the Church. 

Frederic traversed Lombardy on his way into France to attack King 
Louis, who was sheltering Pope Alexander, and he passed by way of 
Milan, which had rebelled against him, which place he took after a long 
siege in the year 1 162. He cast down the walls, and ploughed the site, 
and sowed it with salt, and he sent from Milan to Cologne in Germany 
the bodies of the three Magi, who had come to worship Christ by the 
sign of the star. Frederic, having crossed the Alps to destroy the 
kingdom of France, invaded Burgundy by the help of the Kings of 

216 SER GIOVANNI. [day xix. 

Bohemia and Denmark ; but the King of France, being aided by the 
King of England, his son-in-law, and by divers other barons and lords, 
found himself able to resist the attack, and by the grace of God 
the emperor made no way, nor did he win any territory. Through 
lack of victual he retreated, and began a war against the Romans who 
had rallied to the Church. They had taken ground at Tusculum, where 
they were assaulted by Frederic's chancellor with his squadron of 
Germans at a spot called Monte del Porto, and so many Romans fell 
that they bore the dead in carts to Rome for burial. This rout is said 
to have been brought about by the treachery of the Colonnas, who 
always sided with the emperor against the Church ; and, because of the 
same, the pope deprived them of all temporal and spiritual office, and 
the people drove them out of Rome and destroyed their fine fortress 
called Augusta, which had been built by Caesar Augustus, which thing 
was done in the year 1167. Later on the emperor laid siege to Rome 
to destroy it, and, being reduced to sore straits, the Romans brought 
forth from the clergy-house the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul and 
carried them in procession through the city. By the will of God, and 
the miraculous power of the holy Apostles, the emperor and his host 
raised the leaguer of Rome, and retreated to Viterbo, and Rome was 

After Pope Alexander had tarried some time in France he returned 
to Italy by sea, through the help of the Kings of France and England, 
and landed in Sicily, where he was received by King Giles with much 
reverence and many professions of loyalty to the Church, in return for 
which the pope confirmed his rights as King of Sicily and gave him 
Apulia. The king with his fleet escorted the pope to Venice, whither 
he was minded to go for safety, to be free from the assaults of Frederic, 
and to show favour to the faithful in Lombardy. He fixed his abode in 
Venice, and was most reverently welcomed by the people ; moreover, it 
was under his favour that the Milanese rebuilt their city in the year 
1 168. Soon after the Milanese, with the help of the men of Piacenza 
and Cremona and other Lombard cities, built a city upon the river 
Tanaro to serve as a barrier against Pavia, which was always hostile to 
Milan and sided with the emperor. The city was built by Pope 
Alexander and called by his name Alessandria, and made a bishopric. 
And it happened that the Emperor Frederic, when he saw how many 
cities had revolted from him and joined the Church, which was 
now mightily strengthened through the support of the Kings of France 
and England and Sicily, endeavoured to make peace with the pope, in 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 217 

order that he might not lose altogether the imperial dignity, and sent a 
formal embassy to Pope Alexander at Venice to ask for peace, pledging 
himself to make due amends to the Church. 

These overtures were favourably heard by the pope, and then the 

emperor himself repaired to Venice, and, having thrown himself at the 

pope's feet, besought pardon ; whereupon the pope placed his right foot 

on Frederic's neck and recited the verse from the psalter, * Super aspidem 

et basiliscum ambulabis, et conculcabis leonem et draconem.' The emperor 

replied, c Non tibi, sed Petro; ' and the pope answered, ' I am the vicar 

of Peter,' and he forgave the emperor for all the hurt he had wrought 

the Church, obliging him to give up all he had taken from the Holy 

See. Frederic made a solemn pact that whatsoever the Church held at 

that time should belong to it for ever, and it was found that Beneventum 

was a part of the papal dominions. This matter having been settled, 

Frederic made peace with the Romans, and with Manuel, Emperor of 

Constantinople, and with the King of Sicily, and with the Lombards. 

By way of amends he promised to go over seas for the recovery of the 

Holy Land, forasmuch as Saladin, the Sultan of Babylon, had seized 

Jerusalem and divers other places where Christians abode. This he did 

in the year nyS/when he set forth with a great army of Germans and 

journeyed by land through Hungary and Constantinople, whence he 

took ship to Armenia. Having come there in the great heats of summer, 

he bathed in a little river, and by ill adventure was drowned therein, 

which thing, in the judgment of some, happened to him because of the 

persecution with which he had vexed the Church. He left behind him 

a son named Henry, whom he had induced the pope to confirm as King 

of the Romans before he set sail. Frederic died in the year 1 1 86,* and 

immediately afterwards his son and all his following returned from Syria 

to the west, without having gained anything they sought." 

1 1 187. 2 1 190. 


2i 8 SER GIOVANNI. [day xix. 


<©f tty tremntrant* of&tcfwrtM&mg of ISnglanfc, ano fjoto tfjeg tooft tfmt rise 

from iBLowtantig. 

HEN Auretto's novel was finished Saturnina said, ** I am 
minded to tell you of the progeny of Richard, King of Eng- 
land, and how the same sprang originally from Normandy. 
The family of Richard, King of England, formerly 
settled in Normandy, began in this wise. To that first Duke of Nor- 
mandy who was converted to the Christian faith by the Emperor 
Charles the Fat, was born William called Long Sword, and he had sons 
Robert and Richard. This Richard begat another Richard, who was 
the father of Robert Guiscard, King of Apulia ; to Robert, the eldest 
son of Long Sword, who became Duke of Normandy, was born William 
the Bastard, in this manner. One night he lay, as he believed, with a 
rich citizen's daughter, of whom he was much enamoured, but he had 
in sooth been tricked by the damsel's mother, who, in order to keep her 
daughter from such disgrace, sought out a poor girl, who was very 
beautiful and resembled strongly the damsel aforesaid. This girl she 
let enter the chamber with Duke Robert instead of her own daughter, 
and from this union was born William the Bastard. On the night 
when she conceived this child, the girl saw in a vision how an oak tree 
issued from her body and grew to so great bulk that the branches 
thereof stretched as far as England. In sooth this vision was of the 
nature of true prophecy, as you will hear later. And albeit this 
William was a bastard, he may not be passed over in silence, inas- 
much as, when he grew up and knew of his birth, he proved to be a 
marvel in prowess and wisdom and in courtesy. He made a valorous 
descent upon England and fought against Taul, who was then king, and 
overcame and slew him in battle ; then, having made himself King of 
England in the year 1066, he reigned twenty-six years. After him 
came his son William, and next Henry, son of William, who had to 
wife the daughter of Louis, King of France. This Henry was on the 
side of Louis and Pope Alexander against Frederic Barbarossa when 
he invaded Italy and Burgundy, as has been already told. He likewise 
slew the Blessed Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, on account of 
reproofs of his vices, and because he retained the tithes of the Church. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. zig 

For these sins God sent heavy judgment upon him, for a little time 
after, when he was riding through Paris with King Louis, a pig ran 
between his horse's legs and caused it to fall, whereby the king fell 
likewise, and died immediately. He left a son named Stephen, after 
whom reigned another Henry, who had two sons, King John 1 and King 
Richard. This John was the most courteous prince in all the world. 
He waged war against his father through the persuasion of one of his 
barons, but he died early and left no heir. 

After him reigned Richard his brother, who went with King Philip 
on an expedition to Syria. He was very brave and skilful in arms, and 
with his twelve barons he held his ground against Saladin, the Sultan 
of Babylon, and all his army. To Richard was born a son Henry, who 
succeeded him, but he was a weak-minded man, honest, and wanting in 
courage. After him came the good King Edward, who wrought many 
great and noble deeds, and now thou hast heard the history of the 
royal house of England." 

The novel being finished, Auretto began his canzonet and sang as 
follows : 

Alas ! my ill-starred case, I am undone, 

All through my love for that dear mate of mine. 
Ladies, for God's own sake give ear to one 

The victim of misfortune most malign ; 
Stung with desire my loving heart I gave, 

And eke myself, to a youth brisk and gay. 
Now he without a cause has left his slave, 

Without a word to me he went his way ; 
With handfast true his faith to me was spoken, 

With none but me to taste love's choicest sweet. 
Now he has traitor proved, his word is broken ; 

Wherefore no more content and I shall meet. 
Let him who doubts my tale but taste the woe 
I feel, and have felt, and shall ever know. 

1 The text runs "// re Giovanni" but the writer probably confused King John 
with Dante's " re giovane" Henry, eldest son of Henry II. 

" Sappi ch Ho son Bertram dal Bornio, quelli 
Che al re giovane diedi i mai conforti. 
lo feci ' 7 padre e Hfiglio in se ribelli." 

Inferno, xxviii. 

Ser Giovanni probably went wrong by following Dante, as a vast majority of the MSS. 
of the Divina Commedia read " Re Giovanni." The subject is fully discussed by 
Ginguene, Hist. Lift, de Plta/ie, ii. 586. 

220 SER GIOVANNI. [day xix. 

Now, who can say how dire the pain and fell 

Which pierced my heart when first the news I heard, 
Writ by the hand of one who loved me well, 

And loyal as the stars in deed and word? 
And for the blight that on my passion came 

His faithful soul was vexed with ill and smart. 
Ah, might I see that traitor brought to shame, 

Who with his guile hath tricked my foolish heart ! 
Now go, my little song, and take thy flight, 

And find the loon who brought this bane on me ; 
Tell him it is no sign of courteous knight 

To treat his love with scorn and contumely, 
And if he had not left me to my fate 
No other should have hailed me as his mate. 

As soon as the song came to an end, the two lovers ceased for that 
day their delightsome converse, and joyfully took one another by the 
hand and departed. 

CI)e Ctoenttett) SDap. 


<&t tyt Tartars, an* of ifjeit first emperor name* €att. <©f ijtg fcertrst anfc 

$10 otscenfcante. 

HEN on the twentieth day the lovers returned to their 
meeting-place in the convent parlour, Saturnina said 
in a joyful tone, " I am going to tell you about a race 
of men called Tartars," and she spake as follows : 

"In the year of Christ 1202, a race of men who 
were called Tartars issued from the mountains of Gog 
and Magog, and some declare that these were sprung from those tribes 
of Israel which Alexander the Great, the conqueror of the world, 
confined within the limits of the mountains aforesaid, so that they might 
not mix with other natives, and that, on account of their cowardice, 
they had remained there until these days, believing that the host of 
Alexander was still anear. For, when they were first driven into the 
mountains, Alexander caused to be made by cunning art certain 
mighty trumpets, which he placed in the hills, so that they gave a loud 
blast whensoever the wind blew, whereat the Tartars were terrified 
amain, believing that the army was still encamped there. But, accord- 
ing to the story, the screech owls, of which there were vast numbers in 
the mountains, did great hurt to the trumpets, for they built their nests 
in the mouths of the same ; wherefore, when the wind blew, the trumpets 
gave no sound, and in time they were all spoilt and no more did their 
office. Whereupon the Tartars, having plucked up courage to climb 
the mountains, discovered the trumpets, and how they had been set up 
to hold them in check by fear, and how the owls had rid them thereof. 
On this account the Tartars held the owl in great reverence, and here- 

222 SER GIOVANNI. [day xx. 

after their Grand Signor bore always in his cap the feather of an owl 
as a memorial of how the owls had blocked up the trumpets aforesaid. 
The Tartars, who had lived like beasts and increased mightily, now 
took courage and passed over the mountains, and, finding no people on 
the heights thereof, they descended to the plain and the land of India, 
which was very fruitful. Then they went back and carried this news 
to their kinsmen ; whereupon they held an assembly, and by reason of a 
vision from heaven they made their leader and lord a poor blacksmith, 
who was called Cangius. Him they seated on an untanned skin, and 
hailed him as emperor under the name of Can, which word in their 
tongue signifies emperor. This Can was very wise and valiant, and, 
having issued forth from the mountains with all his people, he set them 
in order by tens and hundreds and thousands, with captains ready to 
direct them in battle. To secure greater obedience, he began by re- 
quiring each one of the leaders under him to slay his first-born son with 
his own hand, and, finding that he was obeyed in this, he set his host in 
array, and marched into India, where he overcame Prester John, and 
subdued all the land. Can had divers sons, who made vast conquests 
after his death, and brought nearly all that part of Asia and the nations 
and the kings thereof under their domination, as well as that part of 
Europe lying towards Caramania and Albania, as far as the Danube. 
The descendants of this Cangius Can are at this time rulers of Tartary, 
and they have no fixed laws, some of their people being Christian and 
some Saracen, but the greater part idolaters. I have told you of their 
origin and emigration, because no other people ever gained such vast 
dominion in so short a time, nor did any other nation or ruler enjoy 
such vast power and wealth. And whosoever would know farther of 
their doings let him read the book by Fra Antonio, the chief of the 
Mount of Armenia, written at the bidding of Pope Clement V., and also 
the book called Milione, writ by Messer Marco Polo, the Venetian, in 
which are set down many instructive things concerning the Tartars, for 
the reason that he abode long time in India while Can the Great 
was ruling." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 223 


Uttfltmuss sslagg Jus toauojter UixQinw in ofHtx to aabe f\n honour. Cfjrougf) 
fjw tieatfj comes to an en* \%z tpranng of xty Hecembm ml&ome, to tott, of 
ttjose tofjo exercise tf)e |)tflfte0t office in tf)e republic. 

HEN Saturnina had finished her novel, Auretto said, " I will 
tell you how Virginius slew his own daughter in order to 
spare her good name. 

After Tarquinius, called Superbus, and all his house had 
been driven out of Rome on account of the outrage put upon the Roman 
lady Lucretia, all the people swore an oath that they would hence- 
forth acknowledge no king in Rome, but would govern themselves 
under the rule of the senate and consuls ; nevertheless, the nobles and the 
people were divided by the bitterest discord. At last, after the people 
had persistently demanded a reform of the laws, the senate was obliged 
to assent thereto ; wherefore they sent into Greece three legates, who 
should bring back from thence a written copy of the laws which Solon 
had laid down for the Athenians in the time of Tarquinius Priscus, who 
began to reign in the hundred and thirty-eighth year after the city was 
built. The legates were Spurius Postumius, Servius Sulpicius, and 
Aulus Manilius, and their journey took place in the three hundred 
and first year after the building of the city, and fifty-five years after the 
expulsion of the kings, Publius Oratius and Quintus Sextilius being 
consuls. After the return of the legates with the copy of the laws, the 
senate named ten men whose duty should be the reform of the laws and 
of the republic, and further ordained that, during this task, for the space 
of a year these men should wield kingly power, and that all authority 
whatsoever should be taken from the other magistrates. These ten 
were Appius Claudius, Titus Genutius, Publius Sextius, and the legates 
afore-mentioned who had brought back the laws from Greece. Four 
more were added, Titus Romulius, Caius Julius, Titus Veturius, and 
Publius Oratius. These ten men, of whom Appius Claudius was the 
chief, set forth the laws which they had drawn up on ten tables, so 
that they might be read by all, and that everyone might give his views 
thereanent, and they declared, moreover, their desire to make these laws 
agreeable to all, and to let them be fully considered. 

And when this year, during which these men should hold authority, 

224 SER GIOVANNI. [day xx. 

had wellnigh expired, it was decided by the public will that ten 
other men should be chosen for the following year, since the laws were 
still short of completion, and all men demanded that Appius Claudius 
should again be one of the decemviri, for he appeared better suited for 
the duties and for the magistracy than any other. He, after feigning 
to refuse the office, finally accepted it, and with him were named 
Quintus Fabius, Marcus Cornelius, Marcus Servilius, Lucius Minucius, 
Titus Antonius, Manius Rabuleius, Quintus Petilius, Ceso Duellius, 
and Spurius Oppius. These ten men added divers laws to those already 
enacted, and set them on two tables, and the laws written thereon, taken 
together with those on the other ten, were ever afterwards known as the 
laws of the Twelve Tables. After this they swore an oath together 
secretly that no one of their number should ever do aught that was dis- 
pleasing to the others, but that the act of any one must be done with the 
approval of all ; that they should hold for good the power they possessed, 
and admit no fresh colleagues ; by which means they resolved to make 
themselves ten absolute rulers. Each one had brought into his service a 
large following of the offscourings of the city, who would defend them, 
if need should arise, from the attack of the people, and, under show 
of justice, they put to death all those who they feared might band 
themselves together against their tyranny. 

When the Sabines, the foes of the Roman people, saw how the city 
was vexed with discord, they took counsel how they might stir up a 
war, and tidings of this having been brought to the decemviri, they 
determined to march against their foes ; and, after they had brought 
together their forces, they set forth, Appius Claudius and one of his 
associates being left to guard the city. Now Lucius Virginius, one of 
the leaders of the people, the captain of a company and a valiant man 
in war, had one daughter ripe for marriage, and one of the fairest 
damsels of the city. Her he had promised to a youth named Icilius, 
the son of one of the tribunes ; but Appius Claudius, having cast eyes 
on her, became enamoured of her, and, for that he might not have her 
to wife, being married to another woman, and because the laws which 
had recently been made declared that patricians and plebeians must not 
intermarry, he set himself to corrupt her with gifts. When he saw 
that his bribes profited him nought, for the damsel kept herself secluded 
and he scarcely ever saw her, he went to work in more sinister fashion. 
He despatched a certain Marcus Claudius, a man of evil life, who, in 
company with a band of ruffians like himself, seized the damsel one day 
in the street, and would have carried her off by force. The damsel 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 225 

and an old woman, her companion, began to cry out; whereupon a crowd 
of people gathered together and forbade him to take the damsel away. 
The people went with Marcus to the judgment hall, where Appius 
Claudius sat alone, and protested that no doom should be given until 
the kinsfolk of the maiden, who had been already summoned, should 
have come, and Appius gave order that it should be as the people 
demanded. After a little came Publius Numitor, the girl's uncle, a man 
of worship amongst the plebeians, with many of his friends and kins- 
folk, and a little later came Icilius with a goodly following of young 
men. Icilius, having came into court, and being disturbed in mind, 
began to complain and to demand who the fellow was who had dared 
to touch a freeborn maiden and honourable Roman lady, and that 
this man should be made to declare what rights he claimed over her. 
Silence being restored, Marcus Claudius, who had seized Virginia — for 
so was the maiden named — spake thus : c I, O Appius Claudius, have 
wrought no violence to this damsel, or to any other ; but, being her 
lawful master, I desired to take her to my house. Now I beg you 
listen to me, so that you may say whether I am acting within my rights 
or not. I own a woman-slave who was born in my father's house, and 
it chanced that in days past she became with child, which fad: having 
come to the ears of the wife of Virginius, she persuaded the woman to 
hand over the child, whether male or female, as soon as it should be 
born. After the woman had been brought to bed, she invented a story 
that her offspring was born dead, but in sooth she gave this damsel of 
whom she had been delivered to Numitoria, the wife of Virginius, and 
the sister of the man here present; and she, who had never brought 
forth either son or daughter, educated the girl in her own house. All 
this has been kept secret from me up to this hour, but to-day informa- 
tion has been given me, and I can bring forward testimony abundant 
and worthy of belief ; moreover, I have inquired of the woman there, 
and, having heard the truth from her, I sought the help of the common 
law, which lays down that children shall belong, not to those persons 
who give them supposititious nurture, but to their own mothers ; that is 
to say, the free child to the free parent, and the bond-child to the bond- 
parent, and that the children born of bond -parents should be subject 
to the masters who own the parents aforesaid. Wherefore I demand 
that I may be suffered to take into my house the daughter of my slave, 
being willing to abide by the decision of the magistrate ; and, if any- 
one may lay claim to rights over her, I will give full security to bring 
her again into this court whenever it may be required of me. But if such 

G G 

22 6 SER GIOVANNI. [day xx. 

as these desire that the matter may be despatched without delay, I am 
ready with my proofs, and then there need be no hindrance ; still, let 
them take which course pleases them best. But in this affair I beg you, 
Appius Claudius, that this cause of mine may be set right, and that you 
will not let me suffer injury at the hands of my adversaries.' 

When Marcus Claudius had finished speaking Numitor said : 
1 Appius Claudius, the father of this damsel is Lucius Virginius, one of 
the leaders of the people, who is now warring in defence of the state, 
and her mother was my sister Numitoria, who died a few years ago, 
a woman of the most virtuous conduct. The damsel was brought 
up in her house as a free woman of the state, and in that righteous 
nurture demanded by the honour of her house. Afterwards she was 
promised, as the law allows, in marriage to Icilius, and the nuptials 
would have been celebrated before now had not the war intervened. 
Now she is more than fifteen years of age, and why therefore has this 
Claudius kept silence over this business so long ? We demand that no 
judgment be given thereanent till Virginius shall have come back from 
the wars, and I will give security that she shall be brought into court 
whensoever she may be required.' Then all those in court declared 
that Numitor's request was a just one, and Appius, having given pause 
somewhat as if to consider, said : c I know full well that the law dealing 
with suits as to slavery will not suffer the person in dispute to be in the 
custody of the one who desires to assert possession at the end of the 
trial. Now here are two persons claiming rights over this damsel, the 
master and the father ; and, if both of them were present, I should 
decide that the father should have custody of her until the declaration 
of the law, but in his absence I decide that the master may take her 
with him, giving however full security that he will bring her into court 
on the father's return. Wherefore, O Numitor, with regard to your 
security and the weighing of evidence in the lawsuit, I will have a care 
that no wrong be done to you, but as to the damsel, leave her with 
Claudius until Virginius shall return from the wars.' 

When Appius thus put an end to the cause for the time being, 
a great sound of weeping on the score of the damsel arose from the 
women her kinsfolk, who were come there, and mighty outcry and 
tumult and indignation from the crowd around the tribunal ; and Icilius 
came forward to lead away his promised wife, and said: c O Appius, no 
one shall take her while I am alive; but if you are minded to violate the 
law, to bring justice into confusion, and to rob us of our liberties, 
be not amazed if we call you tyrant. But now cut off my head, and 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 227 

take this damsel where you will, and these other freeborn Roman 
women as well, so that the people may in sooth learn that they are 
become slaves instead of free men.' These words Icilius spake and 
divers others alike thereto ; whereupon Appius ordered the officers to 
drive him forth from the court, and Marcus Claudius took hold of the 
damsel to lead her away, her uncle and her betrothed trying to with- 
stand him, while the people about the tribunal all began to cry out 
when they heard the weeping which arose, especially from the women. 
Holding the authority of Appius of small account, they rushed upon 
Marcus Claudius, and he, greatly afeared, let go the damsel and went up 
beside Appius, who, being disturbed in his plans, and seeing that if this 
humour should increase a tumult must needs arise, bade the bystanders 
keep silence, and, having called Marcus, spake privily to him, and next 
addressed those who had come forward in the cause of the damsel : 
c Forasmuch as I perceive you have lost your heads in anger, I have 
persuaded my client here to leave the damsel in charge of Numitor, in 
order to meet your wishes, while I require him to give surety to bring 
her before the magistrate to-morrow at the third or fourth hour of the 
day, for this will give time to let Virginius be fetched from the camp.' 
The kinsfolk of the damsel asked for more time, but Appius left the 
tribunal without another word. 

Appius departed, full of rage and chagrin, deliberating how, when the 
damsel should be brought before the court, he might seize her by force 
and not let her go back to her parents; wherefore he determined to post 
around the court a crowd of his clients and associates, so that he might 
be free to carry out his intention by reason of the presence of the same. 
And in order that he might seem to have some justification for what he 
did, he put hindrance in the way of Virginius, so that he might not be 
able to attend at the fixed hour. He wrote secretly to Antonius, one 
of the decemvirs, who commanded the troop in which Virginius was 
serving, bidding him keep such guard over Virginius that he might not 
absent himself on that day from the army on any pretext. But Numitor 
had already despatched thither one of his sons and the brother of 
Icilius, who went forthwith to Virginius and informed him what had 
come about ; and he, as soon as he heard the news, asked Antonius for 
leave of absence, hiding the real reason of his request, and saying that 
he desired to go home because one of his kinsfolk was dead, but that 
he would return without delay. Antonius, who had not yet got the 
letter from Appius, granted this prayer; whereupon Virginius and the 
young men set forth at the hour of lighting the lanterns, and fared by 

228 SER GIOVANNI. [day xx. 

a little-used cross road, fearing attack both from the army and from the 
city. He had reason for his fears, seeing that Antonius, after the letters 
of Appius had reached him, about the first watch, sent a squadron of 
horse, who searched all night along the road leading to the city in order 
that they might seize Virginius, but they could not find him, and others 
who issued from the city did the like. 

In the morning, when Appius heard that Virginius had arrived, he 
betook himself, almost mad with rage, to the court with a great following, 
and ordered the maiden to be brought before him. She appeared with 
her father and kinsfolk, and there likewise was Marcus Claudius, who 
repeated what he had said before, and brought many witnesses to 
confirm the justice of his assertion. Virginius with his kinsfolk spake 
for the damsel, bringing forward their true and just rights ; wherefore all 
those present, when they beheld the beautiful maiden in tears, began to 
weep likewise, and cast hostile looks upon Marcus while they waited the 
decision of Appius, who, caring nought for what Virginius had said on 
his daughter's behalf, and casting his eyes here and there upon the 
bands of his supporters whom he had posted around the square for his 
defence, bade all keep silence and said : 'Virginius, it is long time since 
I first knew of this thing, before ever I held this office of mine, and I 
became advised thereof in this manner. The father of this Claudius, 
my client, left me at his death the guardian of his son, who was then 
very young, and in the time of my guardianship information was 
brought to me how a slave of Claudius had given to Numitoria the child 
which she had borne. I, having made a diligent inquiry as to these 
statements, found them to be true ; but, as the business concerned not 
me, I deemed it meeter to let the claim be made by the youth when he 
should be grown up ; whether he should wish to have the girl for him- 
self, or leave her in the charge of those who had brought her up, taking 
a price for her, or giving her for nothing. But, now that the matter has 
come to litigation, I bear witness and decide that this damsel is a slave, 
and that Claudius is her master. Wherefore, O Claudius, take her 
where you list, having fear of no man, for my officers with their axes 
shall bear you company.' Claudius laid hold of the maiden to take her 
away, but she clung to her father, embracing him and crying out. Then 
said Virginius, f Appius, I have given my daughter in marriage to 
Icilius, and not to you. I have reared her for honest wedlock, and not 
to be the slave of your lust nor for a harlot's life. If these others be 
willing to submit to this disgrace I know not, but certes I will not endure 
it.' And Appius, seeing that the crowd of women who protected the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 229 

maiden were driving Marcus back, cried out to one of his officers, ' Go 
and send away this rabble, so that Marcus may take away his slave ; ' and 
because he spake these words in a terrible and threatening voice the 
crowd dispersed of its own accord. Then Virginius, when he saw no 
hope of aid, said, 'Make excuse, O Appius, for my grief as a father, in 
case I may have spoken over-freely in your presence, and grant to me 
at least that I may put a question to the nurse in the maiden's presence, 
and learn whether the matter really stands thus ; for, if it should prove 
that I am not indeed her father, I shall endure the future more patiently.' 
Appius granted this request, and Virginius, having taken his daughter 
somewhat apart, snatched from a neighbouring butcher's shop a knife 
of the sort used in killing beasts, and cried out, 'My daughter, I give 
you the only freedom I can,' and as he spake he slew her ; and, looking 
towards the tribunal, he said, 'Appius, I crown you and your head with this 
blood.' And straightway a great outcry was raised amongst the crowd, 
and Appius bade his officers lay hold of Virginius; but the people 
made room for him wherever he went, bearing in his hand the knife still 
dripping with his daughter's blood. Icilius and Numitor took up the 
dead body of the maiden, which they showed to the people who came 
together from all sides, and told them of the wicked deed wrought by 
Appius ; and straightway the people, excited by this terrible thing, arose 
in fury and drove Appius out of the tribunal, and compelled the 
decemvirs to lay down their authority. Some of the ten died in prison, 
and some of them in despair sought death by their own hands, and thus 
the city was freed from the dominion of these ten men. Wherefore, as 
the city was delivered from the tyranny of Tarquinius Superbus through 
the death of Lucretia, so the death of Virginia gave cause for the 
liberation of the state from the ten tyrants aforesaid." 

The story being finished Saturnina began her canzonet, and sang as 
follows : 

A lover false has falsely dealt with me, 

And charmed my heart from me disconsolate. 

Now is he gone, ah, weary, wretched fate ! 
For well I know forgotten I shall be. 
Here must I bide in woe and misery. 

Ah me ! I knew not love would be my bane, 

And slay me, till a faithful friend was fain 
The working of my fate to let me see. 

When first my love for him began to waken, 
I did not dare to look upon his face. 

230 SER GIOVANNI. [day xx. 

I greeted him, with his allurement taken, 

And, in his eyes, my own found resting-place ; 

Now with my heart in bonds I am forsaken, 

What though I made him own my winsome grace. 

How was my mind fulfilled with sweet content 

And joy, when first I saw this goodly youth; 

And through his pleasant ways he seemed in sooth 
To grow each hour more fair and excellent. 
And flattering hope a vision to me sent 

That I upon my hand should wear his ring, 

And need no longer seek my bosom's king ; 
So pass my days in joy and ravishment. 

All day to me my lovers sang and played, 

And begged within my bower to abide ; 
With jest and merry sport each one essayed 

To win my grace, and seat him by my side. 
I glanced at them, my face in smiles arrayed, 

For that my heart was filled with joy and pride. 

But that same day he took me by the hand 

I felt a joy I never knew before ; 

And now this trickster false hath wronged me sore, 
And fled his country for some distant land. 
Here I, a stricken woful watcher, stand ; 

But should fate once more let me see his face, 

I straight would cry, to work him some disgrace, 
" Who trusts in thee is weaving ropes of sand." 

Now, my sweet song, I sing to those who fain 

Would hear thee tell the tale of my undoing. 
Tell how I first was fettered with love's chain 

By one who left me after such sweet wooing. 
Tell how I seek my early love again, 

And heed no more this traitor false pursuing. 

When the song was finished, the lovers made an end of their 
conversation for the day, and, having clasped hands, departed, God 

Ci)e Ctoent^first SDap* 

€f)e ^Florentines obettijtoto t^e Stenese at tfje foot of tt)e f)tll ofUal to'IElsa. 

S soon as the lovers came back to their meeting-place 
on the twenty-first day, Auretto said, " I will tell you 
how the Florentines overthrew the Sienese at the foot 
of the hill of Val d'Elsa," and thus he began : 

"In the year of Christ 1069, in the month of 
June, Messer Pro venzano Salviani 1 being ruler of Siena, 
the Sienese with Count Guido Novello, and the band of Germans, and 
the Ghibelline exiles from Florence and the other parts of Tuscany, 
numbering fourteen hundred horse and nine thousand foot, took the 
field at Castel di Colle in Val d'Elsa, which was under the protection of 
Florence, because the May before the Florentines had come and ravaged 
the parts around Poggibonsi, and the Sienese now pitched their camp near 
the abbey of Spugnuole. This news having come to Florence one 
Friday evening, on the Saturday morning Messer Giovanni Bertaldo, 
the vicar of King Charles in Tuscany, set forth with four hundred 
French horsemen ; and, having let sound the bell, all the Guelfs, horse 
and foot, followed after and repaired to Colle, where were assembled 
about eight hundred horsemen with a few of the people, for the mass of 
the citizens could not reach Colle so quickly as the horsemen. On a 
Monday morning in June, the festival of St. John, the Sienese, having 
perceived how the Florentine horsemen were approaching, moved from 
their position to one of greater security ; but Messer Giovanni Bertaldo, 
when he saw they were about to change their ground, attacked them 
with what following he had already with him, without waiting for more, 

1 Dante, Purgatorio, xi. 

232 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxi. 

getting his cavalry in order step by step, and massing the others into 
squadrons. But on account of the hasty assemblage of the Florentines, 
no one had been appointed captain nor as standard-bearer of the city ; 
and when Messer Giovanni Bertaldo begged the knights, who were there 
on behalf of the commune and the Guelf families of Florence, that one 
of them would act as standard-bearer, they one and all refused, either 
through cowardice or rivalry of each other. After spending much time 
over this dispute, Messer Aldobrandino, of the house of the Pazzi, 
advanced and boldly said, f I will carry the flag in the name of God.' 
Wherefore he won great praise for his bravery, and all the horsemen 
followed him and fell hotly upon the Sienese. Albeit the Florentines 
were not led with overmuch judgment, they completely routed the 
Sienese and their allies, what though they were twice as numerous. 
Many of them were taken, and the Count Guido Novello fled, and 
almost all of the Sienese were either slain or captured. 

Messer Provenzano Salviani of Siena, captain and leader of the 
Sienese forces, was taken, and his head was stricken off and carried 
through the camp on the point of a lance. Thus was fully brought to 
pass the prophecy which the devil had spoken to him after an incantation, 
a prophecy he did not understand. For having put force upon the devil 
in order that he might be certified how he should prosper with his army, 
he got this lying answer : c Thou shalt go and fight; thou shalt conquer 
not die in the battle, and thy head shall be held the highest on the 
field that day.' He, deeming from these words that the victory would 
be his, did not make note of the trick therein when it was said, c Thou 
shalt conquer not, but die.' However, it was great foolishness to put 
faith in a counsel like this, coming from the devil. This Messer 
Provenzano was a gentleman of consideration in Siena during his 
lifetime, after the victory he achieved at Monte Aperto, and he swayed 
all the city, and the Ghibelline party made him their head ; but he was 
an overbearing man, and one with a strong will. In this battle of 
Colle, Messer Giovanni Bertaldo bore himself like a valiant gentleman 
in battle against the foe, when all the Guelfs of Florence made great 
slaughter of their enemies in revenge for that wrought upon themselves 
at the battle of Monte Aperto. They took prisoners scarcely any, but 
put them all to the sword, and for this reason the city of Siena, in 
comparison to the numbers of its people, suffered in this war a greater 
loss than that which befell the Florentines at Monte Aperto, and, 
moreover, in this defeat the Sienese lost all their munitions of war. As 
a consequence of the same the Florentines soon afterwards drove 

novkl ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 


the Ghibellines out of Siena and put the Guelfs in their place, and peace 
was made between the two towns, which hereafter remained friendly. 
In this way came to an end the war between the Florentines and the 
Sienese which had lasted so many years." 


?^oto tfje (ffiuelfg torn oriben out og tfje forces of tfje 3Empetor JFxtlmic. 

URETTO'S novel having come to an end, Saturnina began 
and said, " I will tell you how the Guelfs of Florence 
were driven out by the might of the Emperor Frederic. 
While Frederic the Emperor was reigning, being then at 
feud with Pope Innocent, who had deposed him from the empire, he set 
forth to destroy all the Guelfs of Tuscany and Lombardy in whatever 
cities they held power. He began by demanding hostages from all the 
Florentine cities, Ghibellines as well as Guelfs, and these he sent to San 
Miniato il Tedesco ; but shortly afterwards he let the Ghibellines go, and 
kept in hold the Guelfs, who, being left to their fate, were forced to live 
for long time on alms like wretched prisoners. And, forasmuch as the 
city of Florence was one of the chief cities of Italy, the emperor was 
minded to scatter the poison of strife therein, and to bring to maturity 
the accursed strife between Guelfs and Ghibellines, which a short time 
before had appeared on account of the death of Messer Buondelmonte, 
those calling themselves Guelfs being devoted to the states of the Church, 
and those calling themselves Ghibellines to the emperor and his followers; 
but the people and the commune were chiefly disposed to work together 
in brotherly love for the welfare of the republic. 

But the emperor, by letters and by envoys, besought those of the 
house of Uberti, the leaders of his party, and all their followers who 
called themselves Ghibellines, that they should drive out of Florence 
their foes the Guelfs, offering them the support of his army, and thus 
he stirred up his adherents to break the peace in divers tumults in the 
streets. On this account the city began to be agitated and to divide 
into factions, some men holding with one and some with the other. 
Broils arose in divers parts of the city, and more especially in the 
neighbourhood of the palace of the Uberti, which stood where now 
stands the great palace of the people. There they collected their 

H H 

234 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxi. 

following, and fought with the Guelfs of the quarter of San Pietro 
Scheraggio, where the chiefs were the Bagnesi, members of the house of 
Bagno, and the Pulci, and the Guidalotti, and with all their following 
of the quarter aforesaid. Moreover, the Guelfs dwelling beyond the 
Arno often crossed from thence to help the Guelfs on this side of the 
river, when they fought with the Uberti. 

Another fight took place near the Porta San Pietro, where the 
Tedaldini Ghibellines had made their headquarters, because they had 
there many very strong houses and towers and palaces, and their allies 
were the Caponsacchi, the Asmi, the Giuochi, the Abati, and the 
Caligari. They fought against those of the house of Donati, the 
Visdomini, the Pazzi, and the Aldimari. Another battle was fought by 
the gate of the Duomo, near the towers belonging to Messer Lanza dei 
Catanaii, to the Castiglioni, and to the Corsini, where were assembled 
the chiefs of the Ghibellines, the Agolanti and the Brunelleschi, and 
many other citizens of their faction, against the Toschi and the Arrigucci. 
And another fight took place in San Pancrazio, between the Ghibelline 
leaders, the Lamberti, the Toschi, the Amieri, the Cipriani, the Miglio- 
relli, and a great following of citizens against the Tornaquinci, the 
Vecchietti, and some of the Pigli. These had their stronghold in the 
towers of Scherafaggio and of Soldanieri, and of their number was 
Messer Rustico Marignuoli, who bore the standard of the Guelfs, to 
wit, a scarlet lily on a white field. An arrow struck Messer Rustico in 
the face, and he fell dead the day when the Guelfs were driven out, and 
his comrades came armed to bury him in San Lorenzo, and they gave 
him due sepulchre there before they left the city. After they withdrew 
the canons removed the body, fearing lest the Ghibellines should dig it 
up, for Messer Rustico was a great leader of the Guelfs. The Ghibel- 
lines had another force in that quarter, where dwelt the Scolari, the 
Soldanieri, and the Guidi, to hold in check the Buondelmonti, the 
Giandonati, the Bostichi, the Cavalcanti, the Scali, and the Gianfigliazzi. 

Beyond the Arno were the Ubriachi and Mannelli, but no other 
families of name except townsfolk, against the Rossi and the Nerli. The 
riots aforesaid lasted a long time in combats and in blockading one part 
of the city from another, and the towers as well, of which there were great 
numbers in Florence at that time, built some hundred cubits in height, 
and fitted for the use of crossbows and other weapons, with which they 
fought day and night. In the midst of these riots the Emperor Frederic 
sent to Florence Frederic, his bastard son, with several hundred German 
horsemen ; whereupon the Ghibellines, who were close to Florence, took 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 235 

fresh heart, and attacked the Guelfs fiercely, who were without allies, 
seeing that the pope was beyond the Alps, at Lyons on the Rhone, and 
that the might of Frederic in Italy was too much for them. In this 
fight the Ghibellines showed great skill in warfare, forasmuch as the 
Uberti gathered together wellnigh all the strength of their faction 
around their palace, and, having begun the fighting in the places 
aforesaid, they advanced in a body to attack the Guelfs; and on this 
account they were victorious in almost every part of the city, except in 
that in their vicinity, and over against the enclosures of the Guidalotti 
and the Bagnesi, which maintained themselves more stoutly. Against 
these posts they set themselves valiantly, driving the greater part of the 
Guelfs into one place, with the whole force of the Ghibellines against 
them. At last the Guelfs, finding themselves so severely handled — for 
the horsemen of the emperor had already entered the city — after holding 
their ground from Sunday morning till the Wednesday following, 
decided that they could no longer resist the strength of the Ghibellines 
and of the emperor combined, and gave up the defence, and left the city 
on the night of Santa Maria Candelara in the year of Christ 1248. 

The Guelfs having been thus forcibly expelled by the emperor, a 
portion of them withdrew to Monte Varchi in the Val d'Arno, and part 
to Castel di Capraia, and Pelago, and Ristonchio, and Magnale, and as far 
as Lasca. All these places were held by the Guelfs, and were called the 
League, because they allied themselves together, and made war upon 
Florence, and the townsfolk of this faction withdrew to their farms in 
the country, while the Ghibellines, who remained in the city, ruled the 
same by the support of the emperor, and did with it what they list. 
They destroyed thirty-six strong places of the Guelfs, to wit, towers 
and palaces, the first being that of the Tosinghi by the old market 
known as the Palace. This was ninety cubits in height, built with 
marble columns, and a tower attached a hundred and thirty cubits high. 
But the Ghibellines were guilty of worse and more impious deeds. It 
happened that the Guelfs had greatly frequented the church of San 
Giovanni, where also the gentlefolk were accustomed to meet on 
Sunday mornings for the celebration of marriages ; and while they were 
overthrowing the towers of the Guelfs they came upon one, very fine and 
lofty, on the Piazza di San Giovanni, near to the entrance of the Corso 
degli Aldimari. This was called the tower of the Guarda Morto, 
because in old times all the chief people were buried in San Giovanni, 
and now the Ghibellines dug under the foundations, and underpinned 
it, so that, when they should set fire to the wooden supports, the tower 

236 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxi. 

would fall on the church of San Giovanni. But, by the pleasure of God 
and San Giovanni, the tower, which was a hundred and twenty cubits 
high, gave plain token, when it came to fall, that it would not fall upon 
the church ; for, turning itself, it fell straight along the piazza, whereat 
the Florentines marvelled amain, and all the people rejoiced. And let it 
be known that, since the city of Florence had been rebuilt, 1 no house had 
ever been ruined, until this time when theGhibellines began to show them- 
selves as destroyers. In after times they determined to keep in Florence 
eight hundred imperial horsemen under the leadership of Count Giordano. 
In this same year it came to pass that the Guelfs in Monte Varchi were 
attacked by this band of Germans, which then garrisoned the castle of 
Gangheretta in the market-place of Monte Varchi. Though the 
numbers were few, the battle was fierce, and in it many Germans were 
taken and slain, and the troop posted at Gangheretta was overthrown, 
which thing happened in the year of Christ 1248." 

When the novel was finished, Auretto began his canzonet, and sang 
as follows : 

• I- long for him who first my fancy won, 
Because his loving heart is mine alone. 

For all the rest have played the traitor's part, 

In that, without due cause, they all have left me ; 
But thou dost follow me with loyal heart, 
And amongst lovesome dames hast paid me honour meet. 
So fate hath not bereft me 
Of thee, my lover sweet, 
Who for my sake hast felt and borne love's keenest smart. 

Love tempts me not, since I am loved no more 
As I was loved, in that sweet time now dead ; 
Yet would I be where once I was before, 
With him who hath to me his heart's abundance given. 
Let him who now is fled, 
Go in the name of Heaven. 
I trow he is no truer than he was of yore. 

My lover leal hath not forgotten me, 
Nor wavered as a leaf before the wind ; 
He holds me in his heart right valiantly, 
And for my sake hath suffered torture, teen, and woe. 
May his desire and mind 
With mine in unison flow ; 
For ever hath his eye sought mine most lovingly. 

Day XL, Novel II. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 237 

Go, tender song, seek that dear swain of mine. 
Tell him, who loves me well and faithfully, 
All others I to other dames resign, 
Because he gives me service leal and true of heart. 
His lady I would be, 
And let the rest depart ; 
What though in waiting him in solitude I pine. 

When the song was finished, the lovers kissed each other on the 
lips, and glad at heart they went their ways. 

C|)e Ctoentp^econD 2Dap, 


t©f a marM tofiirf) came to pass in STolrtro in tfjc time of .jFertnnano 
ISinfl of Castile anfc Spain. 

HEN the two lovers had returned to the parlour where 
they were wont to meet on the twenty-second day, 
Saturnina began the following story : 

" In Spain a most mighty miracle once happened, 
and one which ought to be well remarked by every 
Christian. In the reign of Ferdinand, the King of 
Castile and of Spain, it came to pass that a certain Jew in the country of 
Toledo, when digging out the side of a hill to add ground to his vineyard, 
found beneath the earth a great stone, which seemed outwardly to be sound 
and without crack of any sort, but when it was broken the Jew found 
in the midst thereof a hollow place, and inside the hollow place there 
was, as it were enclosed in the stone, a book with leaves of the most 
delicate tissue, like wood shavings. It was the bigness of a psalter, and 
was written in Greek and Hebrew and Latin, containing within itself 
three divisions of the world's history, from the time of Adam to that of 
Antichrist, and describing the qualities of mankind in each particular 
epoch. At the beginning of the third period, that is, of this present age, 
it was set down as follows : ' In the third world will be born of a 
virgin, called Mary, the Son of God, who will suffer death for the sake 
of human nature, or, in truth, the whole generation of man.' As soon 
as the Jew aforesaid read these words, he and all his house became 
Christians straightway, and were baptized. Besides this, there was 
written at the end of the book that the book itself would be discovered 
during the reign of King Ferdinand over Castile. This miracle, which 
was seen by many people whose report was trustworthy, was told to 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 239 

King Ferdinand, who caused a record of the same to be made, and the 
book moreover was translated into divers tongues." 


<©f certain strange tidings in ^Florence. Cfje factions of tfje IStancfit ano 
Nert at strife toitf) one another. <©f a fire tot)icf) orofee out anfc caused 
irreparaole loss. 

S soon as Saturnina's novel was finished, Auretto began and 
said, " I am minded to tell you of some strange events which 
came to pass in the city of Florence." And he spake as 
follows : 

"In the year of Christ 1304, on the calends of May (as was the 
custom in Florence in the good old days of peace and prosperity), certain 
companies and gatherings were wont to divert themselves by merry- 
making in different parts of the city, using their utmost effort and wit 
to excel one another, and amongst the other quarters the Borgo of San 
Friano, which in times past had always been wont to make show of new 
and ingenious recreations, sent a message to all parts of Florence, bidding 
anyone who might desire to learn tidings of the other world to repair 
on the calends of May to the Ponte alia Carraia and the parts there- 
about. In the river there they had caused to assemble a number of 
boats with platforms built therein, upon which was exhibited something 
intended to be a representation of hell, with fire and other torments, 
and men in the guise of horrible demons, and others like men, and naked 
souls, whom the devils would thrust into various tortures with loud 
shouts and cries and uproar, a hateful and terrible sight to behold. 
This new representation of doom and torment drew all Florence to gaze 
thereupon, and the Ponte alia Carraia, which was then fashioned of wood, 
one framework upon another, was so heavily loaded with people that it 
brake in several different places, and fell with those standing thereupon ; 
wherefore many perished from drowning, and many others were injured. 1 

Thus the game begun in sport finished in earnest, and, as the 
message had promised, many went to learn news of the other world — 
through the gates of death, with mighty weeping and lamentation of the 

1 Dante, Inferno, xxvi. 

240 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxii. 

whole city ; forasmuch as many citizens had suffered loss, this one a son, 
that one a brother, and others lost various kinsfolk. This accident, in 
sooth, served as a token of the loss which a short time afterwards fell upon 
Florence in the following wise. The Cardinal of Prato found that he 
must after all quit Florence without having made peace between the 
citizens, wherefore Florence was still in evil case. Moreover, the party 
of the Bianchi, which the cardinal favoured, was led by the Cavalcanti, 
the Gherardini, the Pulci, the Cerchi, the Bianchi del Garbo, and by 
many leading citizens, and all of these were moved by fear lest the great 
nobles should crush the people and usurp the supreme power. The same 
course was followed by the leading families of the citizens of Florence, 
such as the Magalotti, the Mancini, the Peruzzi, the Antellesi, the 
Baroncelli, the Acciaiuoli, the Alberti, the Strozzi,the Ricci, the Albizi, 
and divers other houses, all well furnished with men and arms. Of the 
Neri the leaders were Messer Rosso della Tosa, with his following of 
Neri, and Messer Pazzin de' Pazzi, with all his kinsfolk, and the party 
of the Aldimari called Cavicciuli, Messer Gieri Sipieri and his friends, 
and Messer Berti Brunelleschi. Messer Corso Donati stood neutral, 
partly because he was afflicted with gout, and partly because he had 
taken affront at the leaders of the Neri, and almost all the rest of the 
nobles were likewise neutral, and the townsfolk as well, save the Medici 
and the Guigni, who were opposed to all. The fight began between the 
Cerchi Bianchi and the Guigni round about their palaces. They fought 
day and night, and in the end the Cerchi disengaged themselves from the 
fray by the help of the Antellesi. On this account the power of the 
Cavalcanti and the Gherardini, and of their followers, grew so mightily 
that they overran all the ground as far as the Mercato Vecchio and the 
Piazza di San Giovanni without opposition or need of defence. Then, 
because their strength and their position were greatly bettered, both in 
the city and in the outlying parts, many of the townsfolk flocked to their 
side, and those of Volognano came to reinforce them with over a thousand 
soldiers. And on this day the Ghibellines * were certainly the conquerors, 
and they would have driven out their foes, the leaders of the Guelf party, 
who had cut off the heads of Messer Berto Gherardini and Masin 

1 The introdu&ion of Ghibelline and Guelf into a quarrel of Neri and Bianchi 
makes this passage very obscure. Taken roughly, the Ghibellines were Neri, and the 
Guelfs Bianchi ; but the Bianchi and the Neri, being Pistoian factions, did not preserve 
their strict boundaries in the course of civil broils in Florence, and it was not un- 
common to find Ghibellines who were Bianchi, and Guelfs who were Neri. In this 
case Gherardini and Cavalcanti were Bianchi, and friends of the Ghibelline leaders, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 241 

Cavalcanti and certain others of their friends, just when they were in a 
fair way to become masters of the field, inasmuch as fighting was going 
on in divers parts of the city. But it pleased God, for the punishment 
of the sins of the Florentines, that a certain Abbati, one of the Neri, 
the priest and prior of San Pietro Scheraggio and a man of evil and 
dissolute life to boot, should be moved to set fire to the houses of his 
allies round about Or San Michele and in Calimalla Fiorentina, and 
to the house of the Caponsacchi near the going in to the Mercato 

Through the blast of a strong north wind which was blowing, the 
fire waxed so furious that in one day were consumed the houses of the 
Abbati and the Mazzi, the porch of Or San Michele, certain houses 
of the Ameri, the Toschi, the Cipriani, the Lamberti, the Bachini, the 
Bivamonti, and the Calimalla, the palace of the Cavalcanti, and all the 
parts round the Mercato Nuovo, S. Cicilia, and the whole of the Porta 
S. Maria as far as the Ponte Vecchio, and Vaccarezza, and all lying 
thereabout and backwards to San Pietro Scheraggio, and the houses of 
the Gherardini, the Pulci, and the Luccardesi. In short, the whole of 
the Tuorlo and the Campidoglio quarters of the city of Florence were 
burnt ; that is, of palaces and houses together, more than seventeen 
hundred were ruined, while the loss of treasure and munition and mer- 
chandise was immense, because this quarter was the one in which the chief 
trade of the city was carried on ; and whatsoever of the same was cleared 
out of the houses was stolen by the evildoers who were attracted thither. 
So while this quarter of the city was in flames, the fight went on in other 
parts, and divers societies and families and noble houses were ruined 
and brought to poverty, on account of this arson and robbery. 

This trouble came upon Florence on the 10th of June, 1304. 
Wherefore the Cavalcanti, and those who were richest in houses and 
wealth, and possessions and followers, that is to say, the Gherardini, the 
heads of the party, lost their power and position, through the burning 
of their houses and of those of their neighbours, and were driven out of 
Florence as rebels. Their foes grasped the powers of government and 
swayed the state, and then men began to suspect strongly that those in 
office would destroy the rights of justice and of the people, and this they 
would in sooth have done, had it not been for the divisions which ensued 
on account of discord. Wherefore each party was compelled to pay court 
to the people in order to retain the reins of power. And it came to pass 
on the fifth day of August in the same year that Talano, the son of Messer 
Brancaccio Aldimari, having been seized in the palace of the Podesta, 


2 4 2 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxti. 

was about to be mulcted of his life on account of the ill he had wrought, 
but his comrades attacked the Podesta and smote him and divers of his 
household, and bore the said Talano to his home, whereupon the Podesta, 
out of vexation, laid down his office. Now think what must then have 
been the condition of this city of Florence." 

When the novel was finished, Saturnina began her canzonet and 

Ah, leave thy churlish ways, thou knowest well 
How dear thou art to me no words can tell. 

I know not, Love, why thou art rough with me, 

And dost with rudeness my deserts repay. 
Come give me solace in thy courtesy, 

And show thy face benign and sweet alway. 

For since my dearest Lord hath gone away, 
The hours ring out with melancholy knell. 

If Fortune ever more let turn her wheel, 

And let me see his face so fair and bright, 
His cheek a hundred times my lips shall feel, 

For that so long they have been parted quite. 

Nor more in his soft glances I delight, 
Since undeserved his anger on me fell. 

If love, or charity, or strength, or wit, 

Should bring me weary to a port of rest, 
So thou give sign thy rancour to remit, 

And let me in tranquillity be blest, 

Wilt thou be satisfied, and cease molest 
Me with fresh plague, in wrath implacable ? 

My song, to ease my pain, now take thy flight 
To him for whom alone I draw my breath ; 

And be thou careful then to speak aright, 

And bring me back as prize the olive wreath. 
Then joyful will I live its shade beneath, 
And love him better far than words can tell. 

The canzonet having come to an end, the two lovers took each 
other by the hand and gave due salutation, then they went their several 

Ci)e CtoentHJ)trD 8D*?- 


?$oto in fyt oegmmnp, tfje orders of tfje dFriaris JHinoi; auto of tfie ^reacfieraf 

tone Mtaftligfjrt. 

N the twenty-third day, when the lovers had come back 
to their accustomed meeting-place, Auretto began and 
said, " I will now tell you the origin of the Friars 
Minor and of the Preachers. 

In the year of Christ 1098 Innocent III., a 
native of Campagna, was made pope, and reigned 
seventeen years. He was wise and virtuous as well as learned and 
urbane. In his time the Friars Minor began, taking their origin from 
the lowly and devoted St. Francis, who lived a life of poverty. He was 
the son of Pietro Bernadoni, of Assisi, and the pope forthwith accepted 
and approved of his work, and granted him divers privileges, inasmuch 
as this work was founded upon humility, and love, and poverty, following 
in all things the holy gospel of Christ, and keeping clear of the pleasures 
of life. Now the pope in a vision had sight of St. Francis holding 
up with his hands the church of St. John Lateran, and in like fashion 
he saw St. Dominic, which vision was to him a prophecy that, through 
these two, he should uphold the Church and the faith of Christ. And, 
as it is written, the order of the Preaching Friars began at the same 
time, the work having been taken up by St. Dominic, a native of Spain ; 
but the pope aforesaid did not confirm them in his lifetime, what 
though he had seen in a vision how the church of St. John Lateran was 
falling down upon him, and St. Dominic holding up the same by the 
support of his shoulders. By reason of this vision he was fully set on 
confirming the order, but death overtook him, and his successor, Pope 
Honorius, gave the order his sanction and authority, in the year of 

244 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxm. 

Christ 1216. Now in sooth the visions of Pope Innocent concerning 
St. Francis and St. Dominic signified how the Church of God had fallen 
into manifold error, and divers wicked practices, and no longer feared 
God ; and how St. Dominic, by his learned preaching, should correct 
the same, and prove the extirpator of heretics ; and how the blessed 
Francis, by his humility and apostolic life, should restore those who 
were given to lasciviousness. Certes, the Erythraean Sibyl spake a 
prophecy concerning these two orders when she said that two stars 
would arise for the illumination of the world." 


& stepmother causes one of ijer slabes to prepare poison for tier stepson, oe= 
cause f)e tooulb not consent to f)er totstjes. Cfjrougf) mischance tf)e potion 
is orunfc bg a gounger son of fjer oton. CJje stepson is accuseo of tfje 
crime, an& ttje slabe tears toitness against f)tm, out an olb pfjgsician 
comes fortoaro and beposes fmto i)e J)ao giben tije oraugfjt to tf)e slabe, ano 
ijom it mas nought more t^an a narcotic. €f)eg all repair to tfje tomb, 
m^ere tfte goutf) is founto alibe. C|)e tioom t|)at aftermaros mas giben 
upon tije slabe anti t^e labg. 

URETTO'S novel having come to an end, Saturnina began 

and spake as follows : 

f< In Romagna there lived formerly a gentleman of great 

wealth, who was also blessed with a son well trained in 
letters and adorned with every virtue. The mother of this youth being 
dead, the father married a second wife, and begat by her another son, 
who was already twelve years old when his elder brother had reached 
his twenty-second year. The stepmother, who was better furnished 
with good looks than with good manners, let her eyes turn so readily 
upon the fair figure of her stepson that she became hotly enamoured of 
him. For a time the lady endured her passion in silence, so long as it 
was in its early stages, and did not overmaster her powers of resistance, 
but when once her marrow became inflamed by this accursed fire of lust, 
she found she needs must obey the call of passion ; wherefore she feigned 
to be sick in body, and gave out that she was tormented by fever 
within, by way of concealing the wound which had been dealt to her 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 245 

Thus at last, stirred thereto by her hot and lustful imagination, she 
bade one of her maids go summon her stepson ; and he, who recked 
nought of what was afoot, straightway repaired to her chamber, and with 
friendly regard asked her what might be the cause of her sickness ; 
whereupon the lady, persuading herself that these words of his exactly 
fell in with the thing she had in contemplation, became somewhat 
bolder, and, having covered her face with the sheet, out of shame, and 
let fall a flood of tears as she spake, addressed him in these terms : ' The 
cause and the beginning of the ill which now weighs upon me, and the 
grief I feel, and the cure thereof, and my own well-being, are — yourself. 
Those radiant eyes of yours, sinking through my eyes to the very girdle 
of my heart, have kindled within my ill-starred breast a fire of love too 
fierce for me to bear. Have pity, then, on one who is like to die for 
your sake, and let not my marriage bond and duty to your father affright 
you, forasmuch as you are the one who alone can save your father's 
wife ; without your aid she will never be able to bear the burden of life. 
She, in sooth, will with good cause recognize her husband in your 
seeming and in your loved face. The condition in which we two here 
find ourselves, alone and undisturbed, gives us the security and oppor- 
tunity which we need ; and that of which the world knows nought, 
though it be done, is, in sooth, as if it were not done.' At hearing this 
abominable proposition the gentle youth stood as one confounded ; and 
albeit he was so much overcome with horror at the enormous wickedness 
thereof that he was moved to rush out of her presence without making 
any reply, still, having taken farther thought, he deemed it might not 
be well to enrage the woman by giving her direct denial, and determined 
that it would better suit his purpose to engage her fancy by somewhat 
of delay, and to see whether he might not be able thereby to rid her 
mind of this strange and unclean imagination. Wherefore he answered 
that it behoved her to await till she should be once more in health, and 
keep a kind thought for him, adding that he was ready to repay her for 
her love with a handsome offering on his own part ; which words for 
the time pacified her. 

The young man, duly considering that a trouble so heavy as this 
called for the ripest counsel, judged that it would be well to relate 
everything which had befallen him thereanent to one of his friends, an 
old man of great forethought, in whose company he had passed his boy- 
hood with no small advantage, and who was now a trusty support 
to him in the slippery paths of youth. The sage, knowing well how 
great wickedness a woman infuriated by lust might be moved to commit, 

246 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxm. 

perceived that it would be well for the youth were he to fly with all 
speed from the coming storm of exasperated fortune. But before he 
could let ensue this prudent resolve the young wife, impatient, and 
finding every day as long as a year, knew well enough how to bring to 
pass the gratification of her execrable lust ; for, having given her husband 
to understand that he would do well to pay a visit to one of his estates, 
since news had been brought to her that the man in charge of the same 
had fallen into evil courses, she induced him to leave home for several 
days. As soon as her husband had taken his departure she importuned 
the young man every hour that passed to make good the promise he had 
given ; and he, advancing now this and now that excuse, did his best to 
appease her longing with words until he should be able to rid himself 
of her presence by going to some place afar. The lady, filled with 
unwonted longing by reason of the ardent hopes she had nursed, and 
perceiving from the weak excuses the young man put forward that the 
more he promised the farther removed he seemed to be from giving 
effect to his words, waxed wroth ; and, having displaced her wicked love 
to make room for a hatred still more wicked, she took counsel with a 
certain slave, who was in her inmost confidence, how she might at once 
set to work to take vengeance upon this young man who was unmindful 
of his promises, and finally determined to rob the ill-starred victim of 
his life by poison. 

The villainous slave delayed not to carry out this barbarous project, 
and, having gone forth from the house, did not return till late at night, 
when he brought back with him a certain potion in a glass vessel, and 
this he mingled with some wine in the chamber of his mistress and then 
put it in a cupboard where the viands were kept, with the intention of 
giving it to the youth next day at table. But by the will of fortune the 
son of this wicked woman, who, as it has been said, was about twelve 
years old, came back from his morning's schooling ; and, for the reason 
that he had taken a very scanty breakfast, was somewhat athirst. 
Whereupon the goblet of wine mingled with poison, which out of care- 
lessness had been left in an unlocked cupboard, fell into his hands, and 
he drank the same to the last drop, and in a short time fell to the 
ground like one dead. As soon as the household knew of this mishap, 
they raised a great uproar, and the mother, having rushed to the spot, 
the word went forth that the boy was poisoned. Then the mother and 
the slave who had purchased the potion withdrew themselves somewhat 
apart, and privily held discourse over the matter, resolving in the end 
to lay the blame of this misdeed upon the elder son. On this account 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 247 

the slave declared in the hearing of all how he knew for certain that the 
elder son had wrought this crime, because a few days previous the youth 
aforesaid had promised him fifty crowns if he would kill the boy. 
Moreover, when he refused to have aught to do with such evil deed, 
the young man threatened him with death in case he should speak 
thereof to anyone. 

The lady straightway bade the tipstaves come to her house and take 
her stepson off to prison, on account of the charge which the slave had 
preferred against him, and next she despatched a messenger to her 
husband to let him know what had taken place. He came back with- 
out delay, whereupon she caused the slave to repeat in his presence the 
charge which he had made already, and then she went on to say that 
his son had done the deed because she had refused to let him gratify 
with her his accursed lust, and that, over and beyond this, he had 
threatened to kill her. The wretched father was hugely grieved at 
beholding his younger son borne away to burial ; and, feeling that the 
other must needs die a felon's death for fratricide, and being duped by 
the false grief and lamentations of his wife, his anger against his own 
son grew greater every hour. The funeral rites had scarcely been per- 
formed before the wretched father, just as he was, with his face stained 
with tears, made his way to the justice hall, and there, weeping and 
using the most urgent prayers, he did his utmost to compass the death 
of the only son who was left to him, calling him incestuous wretch on 
account of the defilement he had attempted to shed upon his father's 
couch ; fratricide for that he had slain his brother ; and murderer 
because he had threatened his stepmother with death. With these words 
of his he stirred up the people who heard him to such violent indigna- 
tion, so that they all cried out that, without losing more time over 
accusation and defence, the officers should straightway deal out public 
punishment for this sin by stoning the young man to death. 

But the officers of justice replied that, according to ancient custom, 
it was meet that the judgment should be diligently investigated, and that 
they were unwilling to allow so barbarous an instance to take rank as a 
custom, to wit, that any man should be sent to his death by the clamour 
of indignation, rather than by righteous proof. Therefore, according to 
the legal usage, the accused was bid stand forward so that the accuser 
should charge him with his offence. Then the father declared that his 
elder son had poisoned the younger, of which thing he had trustworthy 
evidence, namely, that only a few days past the accused had attempted 
to compass his brother's death by the hand of the slave, promising him 

248 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxiii. 

fifty crowns as a reward. The young man having been questioned denied 
every word, and when the speeches on this side and on that had been 
brought to an end, the judges were not minded to allow this case to come 
to an end merely by conjecture and suspicion, rather than by solid proofs 
and unquestioned truth, wherefore it seemed good to them that the slave 
should be summoned before them. Then this gallows-bird of a slave 
was brought unconfounded into the presence of the judges, to whom he 
told the same story which he had told to the father ; furthermore, he pro- 
fessed himself ready to undergo torture with the young man to prove the 
truth of his speech. None of the judges felt a bias in the young man's 
favour strong enough to resist the proposal that he should first be put to 
the question, and the slave afterwards, if the young man should persist in 
his denial under the torture. But at this juncture, a physician, a man of 
integrity and of great weight in the city, rose and spake thus : f By good 
fortune I am able to declare that, up to this present time, I have borne a 
good name with you, and I feel I cannot allow this innocent youth to be 
either tortured or put to death. But what profit will ensue if I alone 
traverse the accusation of another ? Still you may estimate the value of 
my words in relation to my character, which is well known to you, and you 
may also remark that to oppose me you have nought but the testimony 
of this rascally slave, who deserves to be hanged not once merely, but a 
thousand times. I am well assured that my sense of right and wrong 
will not have deceived me, wherefore let me now tell you how the matter 
really stands. This villain came to me, desiring me to give him a quick- 
working poison, offering in exchange for the same fifty golden ducats, 
and affirming that he wanted to give it to a certain sick man, who was 
tormented day and night by an incurable dropsy and by a thousand 
other pains, and who was anxious by such means to find a way out of 
his heavy affliction. Now when I perceived how this thief went on with 
his lying words, now and again finding some cunning excuse for his 
blunders, I began to suspect that he was bent on some foul crime, and 
was just on the point of bidding him begone. But then I considered, if 
I should deny him what he wanted, he would certes betake himself to 
some other one of my calling, less given to foresight, peradventure, than 
myself, who might furnish him with that he desired. Wherefore I 
judged that it would be wise to give him a potion, and this I did, but 
I will let you know, after a little, what manner of potion it was. I 
was well assured that the business was one which would call for inquiry 
in the course of time, so I would not then and there accept the money 
which the slave offered in payment, but said to him : " Because I am some- 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 249 

what suspicious that some of these ducats here may be either base or of 
short weight, I will bid you put them back in the bag and seal the same 
with your ring. Then, some other day, when it may be more convenient, 
we will go together to the bank and conclude the business." Thus, 
having brought the matter to this pass, I made him seal the bag with 
his own seal, and I have just despatched my servant to bring it hither, 
and when he arrives I will make the whole thing clear to you. Let 
the slave come and acknowledge his own seal, and say how and why he 
would fasten upon this innocent young man the charge of having given 
to his brother the poison which he himself bought.' 

While the worthy physician was speaking, the infamous slave became 
as ghastly to look upon as a disinterred corpse ; in the tremor which 
seized upon him drops of sweat as cold as ice fell from him ; he moved 
his feet now backwards now forwards, and rolled his head from side to 
side. Then in a failing voice he began to mutter divers foolish words, 
in such wise that no reasonable person listening to the same could have 
deemed him innocent ; nevertheless, the desperate villain summoned 
boldness enough to face the peril and to drive away his fears, and, using 
the cunning mood which had hitherto served him, he now set to work 
with the same plausible readiness to accuse the physician of falsehood, 
and to deny the truth of every word he had spoken. But the excellent 
old man, eager to save the last years of his spotless life from any suspicion 
of falsehood, straightway proceeded with all urgency to show where the 
truth really lay, and, having caused the ring on the slave's finger to be 
drawn off by one of the officers of the court, and to be compared with the 
seal on the bag, it was found to tally exactly with the same. The judges 
deemed this evidence strong enough to put the slave to the question, 
but, though they gave him several turns of the strappado, he remained 
firm in his denial of his offence. 

Then the physician began to speak once more and said, c You must 
know that when this wretch came begging me to give him the poison, 
as I have already told you, it was strongly borne in upon me that it 
behoved not a good physician to cause the death of anyone (for who- 
soever knows aught of medicine will know that it was revealed to man 
by heaven for the welfare of the human race, and not for its undoing) ; 
moreover, suspecting, as I have told you before, that he would have 
gone to some other, who out of lack of pence might have given him 
what he wanted, I handed over to him, not poison, but a drink of 
mandragora, which brings on a sleep so profound that whosoever may 
have taken the same remains as one dead, so long. as the working of the 

K. K 

250 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxih. 

drug lasts. Thus, if this boy has in sooth drunk the potion which I 
mixed, he is still alive, resting and sleeping ; and, as soon as the powers 
of nature shall have driven away the heavy cloud of slumber, the light 
of heaven will greet his eyesight as brightly as ever, but, if he should 
be really dead, seek the cause elsewhere/ 

As soon as the physician had finished speaking, all those who were 
present deemed that it would be meet to repair without further delay to 
the place where the boy had been buried, in order to let the question 
be cleared up. Wherefore, having shut up in prison the slave and the 
elder son, they went at once to the sepulchre, and, having come there, 
it was the father of the boy who took away with his own hands the 
stone which lay on the top of the monument. And it was full time 
that the rescuers should come, forasmuch as the boy's natural strength 
had by this time cleared away the thick drowsy humours, and he 
was as one returned from Pluto's kingdom. With what tender 
affection his father embraced him you may well imagine for yourself ; 
and, because he could not find words fitted to make known the joy 
which possessed him, he led his son in silence from the tomb, and 
presented him to the Podesta just as he was, clad in his graveclothes , 
The slave, when he saw the boy still alive, was persuaded that he would 
be pardoned because death had not taken place, and in order to escape 
further torture confessed all that had been done. Thereupon the lady 
was at once seized and brought before the judges ; whereupon, after she 
had been lightly put to the question, she confessed everything concern- 
ing the affair. 

The sentence of the judges was that the slave who had wrought the 
deed, albeit the issue thereof had not proved fatal, should be hanged. 
The lady, on account of the supplications of her husband and her son, 
was granted her life, but she was condemned to perpetual exile. The 
physician, with the approval of all the people, was allowed to retain the 
price which the slave had given him in exchange for the drowsy potion. 
And in this wise the father, after being in danger of losing both his 
sons, recovered them living and blameless in exchange for his infamous 

At the conclusion of the novel Auretto began his canzonet and 

Ah, winsome lady, let no doubts assail thee 

Of my true service, what though others fail thee. 

Who serves his master with true loyalty, 
A twofold guerdon should receive j 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 251 

Likewise the one who would true love deceive, 

His due reward should see. 
But Love indignant leaves no scourge untried 
For those ungrateful ones who sin through pride. 

Thou knowest well my glances do not stray, 

Nor has my faith been ever broken ; 
If thy dear lover hath his farewell spoken, 

Right loth he went his way. 
So, lady, be not vexed with me, nor treat 
With scornful anger this my service meet. 

For ill the proud ungrateful lady fares, 

Who treats her lovers in such wise ; 
All look on her with cold censorious eyes 

Who such a record bears. 
Lady, be kind if thou wouldst live to fame, 
And let high heaven receive thy glorious name. 

Now speed, my song, to ladies sweet and kind, 

Who let rejoice their servants true ; 
So they the sweetest of love's flowers my find, 

Nor hide their charms from view. 
Ladies like these true grace and favour gain, 
Because their lovers never sue in vain. 

The song having come to an end, the lovers brought their converse 
to a close for that day, and said farewell, after clasping one another by 
the hand. 

%\>t Ctoentp*fourtl) 2E>ap* 


©ftano otlla ISella, a leafcmg citizen, is tottbnt fortf) from ^Florence. 
Cfie portrait of t^e same. 

HEN on the twenty-fourth day the lovers met once 
more at their usual place of converse, Saturnina began 
and said, <c I desire now to tell you in what wise 
Giano della Bella, that great citizen, was expelled 
from Florence," and she went on as follows : 

"In the year of Christ 1294, in the month of 
January, when Messer Giovanni Lucino da Como had newly taken 
upon himself the office of Podesta, it chanced that there came before 
him the suit of one who brought an accusation against Messer Corso 
Donati, a noble and powerful Florentine gentleman, for the reason that 
Messer Corso had slain a certain townsman, the servant of Messer 
Simone Galastrone, in a broil which had arisen between them. Messer 
Corso went before the Podesta with all boldness, supported by the 
advocacy of his friends and the nobles, and meantime the people of 
Florence were awaiting his condemnation and the gonfalonier of justice 1 
had gone forth to do execution upon him. The Podesta, however, 
decided in his favour ; and when his acquittal and the condemnation of 
Messer Simone Galastrone were read out, the baser people exclaimed, 
* Death to the Podesta!' and rushed forth from the court into the Corso 
crying out, ' To arms, to arms ! Long live the people ! ' and brought forth 
from his house their leader, Giano della Bella, so that in a brief time the 

1 This officer was the executor of the ordinances of justice. He bore the banner 
of the people, a red cross on a white ground, and was allowed a force of a thousand 
soldiers and a posse of masons to pull down the houses of condemned persons. 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 253 

greater part of the common people were up in arms. And the story 
runs, that he bade the crowd go with his brother to the palace of the 
priors and demand that they should duly carry out the execution ; but, 
because the priors refused to do this, the people ran straightway to the 
palace of the Podesta, and attacked it furiously with armed force. 
Moreover, they burnt the door thereof and broke in, and plundered 
the Podesta, and laid hands upon him and his household in shameful 

Messer Corso fled over the roofs of the houses, fearing for his person ; 
and this outbreak was a cause of great offence to the priors, who were 
met together close to the palace aforesaid ; but, by reason of the un- 
bridled rage of the people, they could do nought to remedy the same. 
As soon as the uproar had subsided, certain of the nobles, who had kept 
their wits about them, took counsel how they might overthrow Giano 
della Bella, because he had been the leader of those who had made the 
Ordinances of justice, 1 and because, in order to compass the downfall 
of the nobles, he had shown himself ready to take away from the 
leaders of the Guelf party the seal of state, and likewise their household 
goods, which were of great value, and to transfer the same to the 
commune, not because he was alien to the Guelf party, but in order to 
overthrow the power of the nobles. Now these grandly perceiving 
how the case stood, closed their ranks by the advice of the judges and 
the notaries, who also felt that they were suffering detriment through 
Giano's action, and joined themselves to others of the well-to-do citizens 
and certain friends and kinsfolk of their own, who looked askance at 
the exaltation of Giano in the commune above themselves. They 
determined, therefore, to call together as numerous a meeting of the 
priors as possible ; and, this having been settled, they went forth before 
the appointed time. As soon as they were all assembled, they held a con- 
ference with the Capitano del Popolo and instructed him to institute an 
inquiry concerning the doings of the aforesaid Giano and his supporters 
and followers, concerning those who had led the crowd when the palace 

1 These ordinances made the kinsfolk of any offender responsible for his misdeeds, 
and allowed any deed of violence to be proved by two witnesses on oath ; they also 
sanctioned the destruction of the house of the accused. Without the consent of the 
priors no grande could testify against a popolano. Grandi might not live in any part of 
the city where they had committed an offence, nor dwell within a certain distance of 
the bridges, nor leave home during time of disturbance, nor attend public funftions with 
armed retainers, nor show themselves in the streets while the gonfalonier of justice was 
abroad. Any popolano becoming a grande incurred all these disabilities, and many others 
too numerous and minute to particularize. 

254 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxiv. 

of the Podesta was burnt and the town set in uproar, and likewise con- 
cerning the Ordinances of justice. 

When this rumour was noised abroad the lower orders of the 
people broke out once more, and hastened to the house of Giano della 
Bella, shouting that they had taken up arms in his defence and to beat 
up the city. His brother took into Or San Michele a flag with the 
arms of the people thereupon ; but Giano, who was a wise man, albeit 
somewhat proud and overbearing, saw that he had been tricked and 
deceived by the very men who had stood beside him in furtherance of 
the popular cause ; that the forces of these, united with the forces of 
the nobles, were very great, and that the priors in arms had already 
assembled before the house. Wherefore he was not minded to put his 
fortunes to the hazard of a street fight ; so, from reluctance to injure the 
state and from fear for the safety of his person, he withdrew from 
Florence on the 5th of March, hoping that hereafter the people would 
restore to him his rights. But, on account of the accusation aforesaid 
and of contumacy, judgment was pronounced against him as to his 
person, and he was exiled. In this banishment he died ; all his goods, 
as well as those of certain other citizens who were accused at the same 
time, were assumed by the state ; and by his fall the city of Florence 
suffered heavy loss — loss which fell especially upon the common people, 
forasmuch as he was the most straightforward and loyal citizen and 
lover of the public good of any man in Florence. And for what he gave 
to the commune he took nought in return. He showed presumption 
in his desire to work his private vengeance, which thing he did more 
than once by the arm of the commune against the Abbati, his neighbours, 
and it was his ill fortune to be condemned, albeit he was guiltless, by the 
very same laws which he himself had enacted. 

And it may be noted how this is a valuable example for all citizens 
in times to come, to wit, that they should guard against over great pre- 
sumption and rest content with their due rank of citizenship. In sooth, 
this example has found such clear demonstration in these our days 
amongst divers of our citizens, that I will now say no more thereanent. 
On account of this change, there arose amongst the people of Florence 
great instability and disturbance, which evils have continued until the 
present time, and the craftsmen and the lower orders of the people have 
wielded little power." 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 255 


<©( tfft taatf) of JEesm <Eorso Bonati, a great antj potonful ritt'3m of 
^Florence, ano a inscription of turn. 

S soon as Saturnina's novel was finished, Auretto began his 
and said, " I will now tell you how Messer Corso Donati, a 
chief and powerful citizen of Florence, met his death," and 
he spake as follows : " There lived once in Florence a certain 
Messer Corso Donati, a man of great power and eminence. In his time 
it came to pass that dissensions arose and grew between the nobles and 
influential citizens who ruled Florence, through envy of the state and 
of the government, which dissensions came to a grievous issue by reason 
of the sins of pride and envy and avarice which marked them. These 
nobles and burghers were divided into two parties, one of which had 
for its head Messer Corso Donati with a following of nobles and certain 
of the burghers, amongst whom were the members of the house of 
Bordoni. The other party was led by Messer Rosso della Tosa, 
followed by Messer Pazzino dei Pazzi, Messer Geri Spini, Messer 
Berto Brunelleschi, and by members of the Cavicciuli and of divers other 
houses. Messer Corso and his following were persuaded that they did 
not get their due share of honours and offices, and at the same time held 
themselves to be the more worthy thereof, forasmuch as they had won back 
the state for the Neri and had chased into exile the party of the Bianchi. 
On the other hand, their opponents declared that Messer Corso was 
scheming to grasp the chief power, and that the governors, chosen by 
the people, held him in great hatred and suspicion, inasmuch as he was 
a kinsman of Uguccione dalla Faggiuola, a Ghibelline and enemy of the 
Florentines. Likewise they feared him greatly on account of his force 
of mind and power, and of the great following he had, and for that he 
might, peradventnre, oust them from the government, and drive them 
out of the country, especially now that they found he had sworn to a 
league with Uguccione dalla Faggiuola, his father-in-law, and had sent 
to him for aid. By reason of this ill-feeling the city rose one day in 
revolt, the bell of the priors was beaten with hammers, and quickly all 
the people, horse and foot, flew to arms, as well as all the outland 
soldiers who were in the service of the rulers of the state. As it had 
been planned by the leaders aforesaid, an accusation was made before 

256 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxiv. 

the Podesta, Messer Pietro della Branca da Ogobbio, against Messer 
Corso, charging him with a design to betray the people, and subjugate 
the city, and to enlist the aid of Uguccione dalla Faggiuola in this enter- 
prise. This petition was granted, and in less than an hour, without 
adding further conditions to the process, Messer Corso was proclaimed 
and condemned. He was denounced as a traitor and rebel to his 
country, and then straightway the priors, the gonfalonier of justice, the 
Podesta, and the executioner, and their servants, and the captain, and 
the gonfaloniers of the companies, and all the people, and the horse and 
foot soldiers, went, amidst the shouts of the crowd, to the house in San 
Pietro where dwelt Messer Corso, in order to carry out the sentence. 
Messer Corso, as soon as he heard the noise which seemed to be coming 
nearer, acted like a brave man and one prompt to carry out his intention, 
and, while waiting for the support of Uguccione dalla Faggiuola, who 
had already arrived with a strong force, barricaded himself in the Borgo di 
San Pietro Maggiore, at the foot of the towers of the Cigno, in Torcicada, 
and in the Via Vecchia, which runs to the prison and to San Procolo, 
having put up strong barriers and assembled a goodly number of adherents. 
The people began their attack upon the barricades from two points, 
while Messer Corso and his band defended themselves valiantly, and 
the fight lasted a great part of the day ; in sooth, it was so general that 
the people brought thither their whole force, and if Messer Corso had 
been supported by the force of his allies assembled outside the city — 
and he was anxiously awaiting the same — the people would have needed 
all their strength for that day's work ; for, albeit they were many in 
number, they were badly disciplined, and in ill accord one with another, 
some of them having little heart for the work in hand. But when the 
troops led by Uguccione learned how Messer Corso had been attacked 
by the people they retreated, and many of the townsfolk, who had gone 
behind the barricades with him, now withdrew and left him with a weak 
following. The populace outside broke down the wall of a garden 
which was opposite to the prison, and a great crowd forced an entrance 
at the rear. As soon as Messer Corso perceived what had happened, 
and that the force outside came not to relieve him, he left the house and 
fled from Florence. The people forthwith began to plunder and destroy 
the house, and certain citizens, who were hostile to Messer Corso, went 
in pursuit of him on horseback. Messer Boccaccio Cavicciuli, his com- 
panion, was overtaken by Gherardo Bordoni, who slew him, and cut off 
his hand, and threw it into the Corso degli Aldimari, and Messer Corso 
rode on alone. 


novel a.] SER GIOVANNI. 257 

But when he had ridden up to Rovezzano, he was captured by 
certain Catalan horsemen and taken towards Florence, and as they 
were passing by San Salvi he made earnest prayer to his captors, and 
promised them rich reward of money if they would let him go ; never- 
theless, they determined rather to take him on with them, since the 
leaders had specially told them off for this duty. But Messer Corso 
was loth to fall into the hands of his foes and undergo the judgment of 
the people, and, being greatly vexed with gout in the hands and feet, 
he let himself fall from his horse ; whereupon one of those who had 
him in hold, seeing him on the ground, pierced him in the throat with 
a lance and left him there for dead. The monks of San Salvi took him 
up and bore him into their abbey, where he died, and the next morning 
was buried there with scant ceremony and a small following, out 
of fear of the commune. This Messer Corso Donati was the wisest 
and most valiant gentleman of Florence in his day, skilful, and gifted 
with fine art of speech, of great bravery and renown, seemly of person, 
and of courteous manners. But he was very worldly in his nature, and 
he did many unwonted and irregular deeds in Florence in order to win 
power. He died in the year of Christ 1308." As soon as the novel 
had come to an end, Saturnina sang the following canzonet : 

Ah ! weary, wretched, and unfortunate 

Am I, deceived through loving all too well. 

But never will I in my bosom quell 
The love that feeds my soul insatiate, 
The wish to be a true and loyal mate ; 

Humble and reverent to be, in sooth, 

As I was ever to that winsome youth, 
Who without cause has left me desolate. 

And strangest thing of all it is to me, 

That fate hath thus prevailed to work her will. 

What force, what chance, what counsel can it be, 
Which keeps us thus apart in sorrow still ? 

Wherefore I'll hie me to a nunnery, 

And quench my passion in those confines chill. 

In God's name, ladies, put no faith at all 

In youths who stand not good and true confest ; 

For I was duped by him I trusted best, 
And all my pleasant honey turned to gall. 
Perchance some blame upon my head must fall ; 

Still surely he hath most discourteous grown, 

To leave me in my sorrow all alone, 
And never once our time of love recall. 

258 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxiv. 

And now, my lovesome song, go take thy way. 

See that you speed my lover's ear unto ; 
Fly as my embassy to him, and say 

I gave to him my troth and service true ; 
But should my hidden love the traitor play, 

Lorn shall I live and his remembrance rue. 

As soon as the song was finished the lovers made an end for that 
day of their converse, and having taken each other by the hand they 

Cl)e Ctoentp*fiftl) SDap* 


Bemocrate of l&tcanatt determines to entertain certain gentlemen of tfje out= 
lanos toitf) a tjunt of totlto animals. <©ne of tfjese, a fmge sf)e-oear, Kit*, 
anto some ruffians scheme tjoto tfjeg mag rot Bemocrate. <©ne of tfjem 
puts on tfje oear's sfein, ano is sijut in a cage fig tfje otfjers, tofjo present 
tfje same to ©emocrate, feigning tfjat a friento of fjis, an aioanian, fjas 
sent tfje fieast as a gift. Cfje tfjief lets in fjis friends fig ntgfjt, out a 
serbtng=man, tearing tfje noise, tells fjoto tf)e fiear fjas firofcen loose, SEfje 
fieast is slain, anti tfje tll?fatefc tfjief is orscobereo. 

N the twenty-fifth day, when the lovers came once 
more to their wonted meeting-place, Frate Auretto 
said, " I will now tell you a story which I think will 
be to your taste. 

In the city of Ricanati there dwelt formerly a 
gentleman called Democrate, who was very wealthy 
and open-handed with all the goods he possessed. And because he 
was the chief man of the city, he gave every year to the townsfolk an 
entertainment of games and spectacles, with which they were always 
mightily pleased ; and it happened one year that he determined to 
prepare a great party for hunting the wild beasts in the forests round 
about the city, for the purpose of giving pleasure to certain gentlemen 
from foreign parts, who were about to come there on business. 

With this end in view he brought together, at a vast expense of 
money, a very large quantity of wild animals, amongst which were 
several bears. But it chanced that the gentlemen aforesaid, on whose 
behalf he had specially set in order this hunt, delayed their coming 
longer than Democrate had anticipated, and many of the beasts which 
were shut up in cages died. These, being thrown out into the public 

z6o SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

places, were gathered up by divers poor people, who skinned them in 
order to make food of them. Amongst others died a she-bear of huge 
size and very terrible of aspecl ; whereupon a gang of thieves, who had 
recently come into the city, devised a plan how they might, by the 
cunning use of the skin of this bear, rob Democrate by a method which 
I will explain to you. 

They took the bear aforesaid and carried it away to their lodgings, 
where they skinned it most dexterously, leaving, however, the head and 
the feet untouched, and having removed from the hide all traces of 
flesh, they dressed the skin with ashes, and hung it in the sun to dry, 
feasting and making merry in the meantime with the bear's flesh. As 
soon as the skin was dry, they put therein one of their number called 
Trasileo, according to the plan which they had already settled amongst 
themselves, and sewed the skin carefully together, concealing the 
seam under the thick fur in such wise that no one could see it. They 
put Trasileo's head in the place where the bear's throat had been 
cut, thus allowing him space for seeing and breathing. In sooth, he 
appeared to be a real bear, and nothing else. Next they bought a 
cage, into which they put Trasileo, and, having brought their scheming 
to this point, they feigned to have knowledge of a certain Nicanore, an 
Albanian who was reported to be on terms of great friendship with 
Messer Democrate, and was moreover a great lover of the chase in his 
own country. The thieves also indited certain letters which set forth 
that what this friend of Democrate's did he did on account of the 
feast which was about to be held, and as a fellow votary of the chase. 

Somewhat later, when night had come, the rogues carried the cage 
in which the bear had been placed, as well as the letters aforesaid, to 
Democrate, who, after he had praised highly the size of the beast, 
and rejoiced amain over the seasonable liberality of his friend, gave 
orders that his servants should count out to the men who had conveyed 
the bear thither the sum of ten ducats, and that the cage, with the bear 
inside, should be taken to the place where the other wild animals 
were bestowed. Then one of the thieves said, { You should be careful 
what you do, signor, for the she-bear is greatly exhausted through the 
heat of the sun and the length of the journey, and on this account she 
should not be placed with the other beasts, which, according to the report 
I have heard, are not in the most healthy state. It would be better to 
let the bear be put in some open place within your house, where there 
is plenty of fresh air, so that she may find herself in the wonted 
surroundings of those animals which abide in thick woods and cool 

novel i.] SER GIOVANNI. 261 

caverns.' Democrate, when he called to mind how many of the other 
beasts had died, signified his assent to the words of this man, and told 
the thieves that they might bestow the bear in whatever place they 
might consider the best for the purpose. 

Whereupon they forthwith placed the cage in a certain corner of 
the house, from which Trasileo could plainly espy in what places the 
servants were wont to put the vessels of silver after taking the same 
from their master's table, for he had plentiful store of these and of 
great value. Then the thieves said, ' We are prepared, if there should 
be need for our services, to lend our aid in this matter, forasmuch as we, 
being well acquainted with the nature of the beast, can give her the food 
she may require, now she is weary and exhausted, when the time seems 
fitting for her to be fed.' But Democrate made answer, • I would not 
have you troubled with such a task as this, forasmuch as my servants 
are well versed in the management of beasts of this kind, and will know 
exactly what is needful to be done.' 

After Democrate had spoken, the robbers went their way, and when 
they had come to a place a short distance outside the city, they caught 
sight of a tomb in a secluded position, near to a little church, and some 
distance from the road. Having raised the cover of the tomb, which, 
through the lapse of many years, had fallen all to ruin, they found that 
the bones of the dead man, who had been buried therein, were reduced 
to dust ; wherefore they settled in their minds that this tomb would 
be an exceedingly convenient hiding-place for whatever plunder they 
might bear off from the house of Democrate. Then, having waited and 
taken note of the darkest hour of the night, to wit, the one when sleep 
by its first descent gains the mastery over the senses of mortals, they 
betook themselves, duly furnished with arms and needful implements, 
to the house of Democrate. Trasileo on his part had been no less on 
the alert within, seeing that, as soon as he deemed all the household 
were asleep, he got out of the cage and stabbed the door-keeper with 
his knife, and then, having opened the door, he let in his comrades. 

As soon as the robbers had gained admittance to the house of 
Democrate, Trasileo pointed out to them a certain wardrobe into which 
he had seen the servants put the silver ware, and they, when they had 
opened the same with a tool made for the purpose, loaded themselves 
with as much of the silver as they were able to bear away, and betook 
themselves to the tomb afore-mentioned, leaving Trasileo in the house 
until they should return to fetch the residue, and bidding him remain 
near the door and take note of any stir which he might hear in the 

262 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

house. But in sooth they were persuaded in mind that the very aspect 
of the bear would be enough to throw into panic fear any one of the 
servants who might by chance be aroused. And it happened that one 
of the serving-men of the house was awakened by the noise they made, 
and this man went to the door to see if aught was amiss with the porter. 
When he beheld the porter lying dead, and the savage beast roaming 
about the house, he withdrew without making the least noise, and went 
to tell to his fellow-servants the sight he had seen. In a very brief 
time the house was filled with men bearing lighted torches, wherewith 
the darkness was dissipated, and not one of the men aforesaid came 
unarmed, for some bore hand-spikes, some lances and spits, but most of 
them had drawn swords. Over and beyond this they took with them 
a lot of huge hounds of the chase, and they all together fell upon the 
bear, which they slew with many wounds and lacerations, without 
hearing a single cry or sound made by the beast. But the fierce brute 
had stricken the hearts of all who beheld it with so great fear that, albeit 
it was now dead, no one dare touch it. At last it came to pass that a 
certain butcher set to work to flay the bear, whereupon he came upon 
the body of the wretched and ill-starred thief." 


WLxUn \%t dFourtf) gooses (Starless, OTount of &njou, to oelfcinfl of Stctlg atto 
&imlta, after Rabins tafeen \$w ianta from J&anfuo; <©f Xty toarg tfjat 

S soon as Auretto had ended his story Saturnina said, f f I will 
now tell you of the life of a very valiant prince, who was 
named Charles, Count of Anjou. 

During the reign of Manfred, the natural son of the 
mperor Frederic, and the foe of the Church and of all the Guelfs in 
Italy, the Florentines were overthrown at Monte Aperto, by which 
victory Manfred and the imperial party in Tuscany and Lombardy 
gained great power, while the Church and the Guelfs were weakened. 
In 1260 Pope Alexander died at Viterbo, and the chair was empty five 
months through the strife amongst the cardinals, who finally elected 
Pope Urban IV., of Cresi, a town in France. He was the son of 
a cobbler, and had neither worth nor wit. When he saw how the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 263 

Church was brought low by the violence of Manfred, who held well- 
nigh the whole of Italy and occupied the patrimony of St. Peter, he 
preached a crusade, to which a great multitude came ; whereupon Man- 
fred's army withdrew to Apulia. But Manfred did not cease to vex 
the Church, and in Sicily, and Apulia as well, gave himself over to 
pleasure, living as an Epicurean in luxurious fashion with many con- 
cubines, and caring nought for God and the saints. But the just God, 
who is gracious and merciful to those sinners who are penitent, and 
pardons not those who refuse to come to Him, sent ruin upon Manfred 
when he deemed himself at the height of his fortune. Pope Urban and 
the Church were under Manfred's power, and the two elected emperors, 
one of Spain and the other of Hungary, were too weak and disunited 
to march into Italy, and Conradin, the son of King Conrad, to whom 
Sicily belonged by succession, was too young to occupy the same ; where- 
fore the pope, urged by divers of those expelled their lands by Manfred 
— and especially the exiled Guelfs of Florence, who followed the pope 
persistently and laid their plans before him — held a council of cardinals 
and prelates, and proposed that, as the chair of Peter was in the hands 
of Manfred, one of a house hostile to the Church, ungrateful and per- 
secuting, he desired to rescue the Church from bondage. It seemed 
good to him to call upon Charles, Count of Anjou and Provence, 
brother of the French king, the most powerful, sagacious, accomplished, 
and virtuous prince of his time, who, being captain of the Church and 
King of Sicily and Apulia, would regain whatever Manfred — one 
damned and excommunicated — still held as a rebel contrary to the will 
of the Church. So fully did he trust to the powers of Charles and of 
his following that he was persuaded they would speedily recover the 
country from Manfred and restore the Church to power. 

All the council agreed to this proposition, and they elected Charles 
King of Sicily and Apulia, with succession to his descendants of the 
fourth degree. The election being confirmed, they issued their decree 
in the year 1263 » an< ^ Charles being informed of the same by the 
Cardinal Simone dal Torse, took counsel with the King of France and 
with the Counts of Artois and Alencon his brothers, and with the 
barons of France, all of whom advised him in the name of God that it 
was his duty to take up this task in the service of the Church, and 
bring honour to the crown of France. Moreover, his brother Louis 
promised aid of men and money, and all the barons did the like. His 
wife was daughter of the good Raymond of Provence, a most gracious 
gentleman, and one descended from the house of Aymon. The inherit- 

264 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

ance of Count Raymond lay beyond the Rhone, where he spent his life 
in deeds of honour, and all the gentlemen of Provence and France and 
Catalonia flocked to his court. Once upon a time a certain pilgrim, 
returning from San Jacopo, arrived there, and, having heard of Count 
Raymond's goodness, tarried long, and, being a man of parts, won 
favour with the count and became ruler of all the state. So honest was 
he that in a short time the count's income was doubled, the court being 
honourably maintained the while. Now Raymond went to war with the 
Count of Toulouse, the most powerful noble in the world, who had 
forty counts his vassals, but the pilgrim aforesaid, by his wit and the gold 
he had saved, raised so great a force that Count Raymond won the day. 
Count Raymond had four daughters and no son, and by the good 
pilgrim's prudence he married the eldest to the King of France with a 
rich dowry, the pilgrim saying thereanent, ' Let not this charge irk 
you ; for, if you marry the first well, you will marry the rest better, and 
at little cost by reason of this kinship.' And so it was, for straightway the 
King of Hungary, in order to gain alliance with the King of France, 
married the second with a slender dower ; then his brother, when he 
was chosen King of the Romans, took the third ; and, the fourth being 
left, the good pilgrim said to the count, f I desire to find for this one a 
proper husband as your son-in-law, one who will be your heir;' and 
when Charles, Duke of Anjou, the brother of the French king, came, 
the pilgrim declared she should be given to him, seeing that he was the 
most worthy gentleman in the world ; and so it was done. But through 
envy, which ruins all righteous dealings, the barons of Provence charged 
the good pilgrim with ill management of the treasure of the count, who 
demanded a reckoning of the same, but the pilgrim said, * Count, I have 
served you long, and have raised you from low to high estate ; now by 
evil counsel you show small gratitude. I came a poor pilgrim to your 
court, where I have lived honestly. Now give me my mantle and my 
staff and my scrip ; for, as I came, so will I depart.' The count hear- 
ing this would not that he should go, but he refused to stay, and, as he 
had come, so he went; and no man ever knew whence he came, or 
whither he went ; but many were persuaded that he was the Holy Ghost 
himself. 1 

Now as to the excellent lady, the wife of Q>unt Charles of Anjou. As 
soon as she heard of her husband's election, she pawned all her jewels, 
and called all the bachelors of France and Provence to serve under her 

1 Dante calls him Romeo, Paradiso, vi. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 265 

banner and to help make her queen. She was stirred to this by vexation ; 
for, shortly before, her three elder sisters, all queens, had made her sit 
far below them at table, and, when she complained of this to her 
husband, he said, * Trouble not ; I will soon make you a greater queen 
than any of these/ Wherefore she strove eagerly for this dignity, 
and had in her service the most valiant barons that ever rode. Charles set 
in order his array with care and ability. He accepted the election of the 
pope and cardinals, and at once set forth for Italy with all his power to 
defend the Church against Manfred, whom he was minded to expel from 
Sicily and Apulia ; whereupon the Church and all the Guelfs took heart. 
When Manfred heard this news he made preparation of men and 
money by the help of the Ghibellines of Lombardy and Tuscany his 
allies, and commanded the equipment of more men than ever he had 
raised before, summoning divers from Germany to bar the coming of 
Charles into Italy on his way to Rome. By money and promises he 
won the support of most of the Italian cities, and made his kinsman the 
Marquis Pallavicino, whom he greatly resembled, his vicar in Lombardy. 
He let prepare many sailors in armed galleys of Sicily and Apulia and 
Pisa, who were in league with him, and he made light of the approach 
of Charles, whom he called Carlotto in scoffing wise. 

By preparations such as these Manfred deemed himself master by 
sea and land. The Ghibellines ruled in Tuscany and Lombardy, and 
cared nought for Charles's coming ; but in August, 1 264, there appeared 
in the heavens a comet with a tail of rays, rising in the east and passing 
through the midst of the sky westward, and shining for three months. 
This comet denoted strange and various things, and many declared it 
foretold the coming of Charles of France, and those changes which befell 
Sicily and Apulia the next year. That these comets proclaim changes 
in kingdoms, the ancient authors bear witness in their verses, notably 
Statius, who writes in the first book of his Thebaid : 

' Bella quibus populis, quae mutent sceptra cometas ; ' 

and Lucan, in his first book of the Civil Wars, says : 

' Ignota obscurae viderunt sidera noftes, 
Ardentemque polum flammis, cceloque volantes 
Obliquas per inane faces, crinemque timendi 
Sideris, et terris mutantem regna cometen.' 

Amongst other facts one was evident, to wit, that, when the star 
appeared, Pope Urban fell sick, and on the night when it waned he died 

M M 

266 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

at Perugia, and was buried there. The coming of Charles being 
delayed by his death, Manfred and his followers were on the alert, 
reckoning that the death of the pope, who was a Frenchman, would 
hinder his rival's enterprise. 

The papacy was vacant five months when, by God's will, Clement 
IV., of Saint Gilles in Provence, was chosen, a good man of holy 
life, given to prayer and fasting and almsgiving, what though he had 
hitherto been known as a layman with wife and children, and a skilful 
advocate in the king's court. But after his wife's death he became a 
priest and Archbishop of Narbonne and Cardinal of Santa Savina. He 
was pope four years, having favoured the project of Charles and repaired 
the fortunes of the Church. Charles was Count of Anjou by inheritance 
from his father, and Count of Provence beyond the Rhone from his 
wife, Count Raymond's daughter ; and, as soon as he was elected 
King of Sicily and Apulia, he set his array in order to invade Italy as 
before told. But to make more clear what is to come, forasmuch as 
Charles was ancestor of the Kings of Sicily and Apulia sprung from the 
house of France, I will say somewhat of his virtues and qualities ; for it 
is well to keep fresh the memory of so great a prince and protector of 
the Church. He was sage in counsel, skilful in arms, and well esteemed 
by all the kings of the world. He had great conceptions of great 
actions to be done, was steadfast in adversity, firm in his promises, of few 
words and many deeds, and little given to laughter. He was honest, 
religious, a good catholic, stern in judgment, and fierce of aspect, tall in 
stature, skilful in all he undertook, and kingly beyond all others. He 
slept little, saying that time so spent was lost. He was generous to his 
knights, and keen to win lands and lordships and money for the 
furnishing of his enterprise. Court people, such as pages and players, 
he held in small esteem. He bore the arms of France, gold lilies on 
an azure ground, with a red label above, and so far his device differed 
from that of the kingdom. By his wife Charles had two sons and many 
daughters. The elder, Charles, was lame. He was Prince of Capua, 
and afterwards King of Sicily. The other, Philip, was, by right of his 
wife, Prince of Morea, but he died young and childless, having hurt 
himself in bending a crossbow. 

To return to the story. The exiled Guelfs of Florence were mightily 
heartened by the taking of Modena and Reggio, which happened as 
follows. The Guelfs, having been driven out of Lucca, tarried some 
time at Bologna in great poverty, some as foot soldiers, some horse, 
and some without pay of any sort. At this time it chanced that the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 267 

Guelfs and Ghibellines of Modena came to blows on the Piazza del 
Comune, after the way of the Lombards, and for many days they faced one 
another without either side getting any advantage ; whereupon the Guelfs 
sought aid from the exiled Tuscan Guelfs in Bologna, who, like needy 
folk, set forth as best they could, some on horseback and some on foot, 
and, having come to Modena, the Guelfs inside opened a gate to them. 
When they reached the piazza they, like men versed in warfare, set upon 
the Ghibellines, who made a feeble resistance. They were routed, killed, 
driven out, and robbed of their goods, and with this booty the Guelfs 
bought them horses and arms, which they sorely needed. This happened 
in the year 1 263. Some time after a like strife arose in Reggio ; where- 
upon the Guelfs aforesaid marched thither, and, having made one Forese 
Animali their leader, they entered Reggio, and joined battle on the piazza. 
The fight was stubborn, for the Ghibellines of Reggio were doughty, 
and one of them, Caeca da Reggio, was a giant, and wondrous strong, 
who carried an iron mace of such weight that no one could come anear 
him without being overthrown or slain. He killed many and sustained 
the fight by his own arm. When the Guelfs saw this, they chose twelve 
of the bravest of their men, who should fall upon him with knives ; 
and, after stout resistance, this brave fighter fell dead upon the piazza. 
The Ghibellines, seeing their champion fallen, fled, and were driven 
out of Reggio. Thus in brief time the Guelfs, expelled from Florence 
and other Tuscan lands, horsed themselves anew, and now mustered 
four hundred stout men-at-arms, all of whom were at Charles's service. 
As soon as these heard of his coming they made haste to equip 
themselves properly, four hundred horsemen, all of gentle birth and 
versed in arms, and they sent messengers to Pope Clement to beg him 
commend them to Charles and to offer their services to the Church. 
He received them graciously, providing them with money, and desiring 
that the Guelfs of Florence should bear his own arms on their banner 
and seal, that is, a crimson eagle above a green serpent on a white field, 
which device they bear to this day, having added thereto a small crimson 
lily above the eagle's head. Under this banner they went along with 
the French horsemen, and proved the most valiant of all the followers 
of King Charles. In 1265, Charles, having assembled his knights and 
barons, and collected money for his journey and displayed his forces, 
caused Count Guy de Montfort at the head of fifteen hundred French 
knights to set forth for Rome by way of Lombardy. He himself, 
having kept Easter with King Louis and his kinsfolk, marched away 
and came without halt to Marseilles in Provence, where he had let pre- 

268 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

pare thirty galleys, on which he embarked with all his following, and 
set out for Rome by sea, incurring no light danger, because Manfred 
had set in order at Genoa and Pisa more than eighty galleys, which 
kept at sea on the alert, so that Charles might not pass that way. But 
he, fearing nought, put out to sea, regardless of the watch kept by the foe, 
and quoting the saying of a certain philosopher, that f A man prompt 
of purpose may overcome Fortune,' which stood him in good stead ; 
for, while he was sailing with his fleet in the Pisan sea, he chanced to 
get separated from the rest, and with three other galleys came to the 
port of Pisa. When Count Guido Novello, Manfred's vicar in Pisa, 
saw what had happened, he prepared to go to the port with all his force 
to take Charles prisoner. But the Pisans, having seized the port and 
closed their gates, sent word to the vicar saying that they desired he should 
restore to them Cassero di Mutrone, which place he held for the people of 
Lucca, a place which they needed greatly, and this had to be granted 
before he could act. Through this delay the opportunity had passed 
before Count Guido sailed from Pisa ; for Charles had put out far to 
sea, and thus escaped great danger. Then by God's pleasure he passed 
without hurt close to Manfred's fleet, and arrived safe and sound at the 
mouth of the Tiber near to Rome. His coming was so wondrous and 
unlooked-for that Manfred and his following would not believe it. 

Great honour was done to Charles at Rome, and the pope and 
people made him senator ; and, albeit Pope Clement was at Viterbo, he 
gave Charles all possible support, spiritual as well as temporal, against 
Manfred. But because his cavalry on its road from France was greatly 
hampered by Manfred, and found difficulty in joining him, Charles 
resolved to tarry all that summer at Rome and at Viterbo, and made 
plans meantime how he should enter his kingdom with his army. 
Count Guy de Montfort, whom Charles had made chief of the cavalry, 
and the countess, the wife of Charles, quitted France in the June of 
the year aforesaid. With De Montfort went Bernard, Count of Ven- 
dome, and Jean his brother, Guy de Beauvais, Bishop of Auxerre, 
Philippe de Montfort, Guillaume and Pierre de Belmont, Robert de 
Bethune, son-in-law of the Count of Flanders, Gilles le Brun, Constable 
of France, governor and tutor of the aforesaid Robert, the Marshal of 
Mirepoix, Guillaume L'Etendard, and Jean Brefils, Charles's own mar- 
shal, and a valiant and courteous gentleman. These passed by Burgundy 
and Savoy, and, having crossed Mont Cenis, arrived at Asti in the 
territories of the Marchese di Monferrato, by whom they were honour- 
ably received, because he held for the Church against Manfred. By the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 269 

help of the Milanese they passed through Lombardy in armed squadrons, 
being somewhat in fear on the road from Piedmont to Parma, seeing 
that the Marchese Pallavicino was a close kinsman to Manfred, and 
was set with a force of Cremonese and other Lombard Ghibellines in 
league with Manfred to guard the passes ; but by God's pleasure the 
French marched on without fighting, and reached Parma. Men say, 
indeed, that Messer Buoso di Duera da Cremona, being bribed by the 
French, advised the withdrawal of Manfred's army from the opposing 
position they had taken up ; on which account the Cremonese in their 
fury made an end of the house of Duera. The French were graciously 
welcomed at Parma, and the exiled Guelfs of Florence, with more than four 
hundred well-armed horsemen, with Count Guido Guerra 1 at their head, 
went to meet them as far as Mantua ; and, when the French saw how 
well set these were with arms and horses, they marvelled amain thereat, 
seeing that they were exiles ; and they became close comrades. More- 
over, they were escorted by the Florentines through the Lombard 
territory to Bologna, and through Romagna and the March and the 
Duchy. They dare not touch Tuscany, which was given over to the 
Ghibellines and to Manfred ; wherefore they spent much time on the 
way, and did not reach Rome before the December of the year aforesaid. 
Count Charles was glad at the sight of them at Rome, and forthwith 
let prepare for his coronation. He was consecrated in Rome on the 
day of Epiphany by two cardinal legates sent by the pope, and he and 
his wife were crowned sovereigns of Sicily and Apulia. The feasting 
over, he tarried not to lead his army through the Campagna towards 
Apulia, winning the greater part of the Campagna without any resistance. 
King Manfred, when he heard of the coming of King Charles and the 
French, and how they had penetrated so far through the ill conduct of 
his forces, was greatly angered, and spent all his care in guarding the 
passes into his dominions. At the bridge of Ceprano he stationed the 
Counts of Giordano and Caserta, who were from Acquino, and with 
them a great company of horse and foot. At San Germano he posted 
the main body of his Germans, Apulians, and Saracens of Nocera with 
bows and crossbows, trusting more to this defence than to any other, on 
account of the strength of the position and the site, which lay between 
lofty mountains and a marsh, and was victualled for more than two 
years. When Manfred had set the passes in defence, he sent envoys to 
Charles with propositions for peace or a truce, and when these had 

1 Dante, Inf., xvi. 

27° SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

delivered their errand, King Charles gave answer by word, and said : 
f I wish for nothing so much as a battle in which one of us shall fall. 
If I kill Manfred, I shall send him to hell ; if he kills me, I shall go to 
paradise.' Thereupon he advanced at once, and at Frosolone in the Cam- 
pagna he descended upon Ceprano. Count Giordano, who guarded the 
pass, would fain have defended it when he saw the king's forces advancing, 
but the Count of Caserta advised that they should let pass certain 
of the French, whom they might capture easily beyond the pass. Count 
Giordano, deeming the advice good, consented, and when he saw that 
many of the French had issued from the pass, he was minded to attack ; 
but the Count of Caserta, who had turned traitor, affirmed that the risk 
was too great, seeing that so many had made their way through. Then 
Count Giordano, perceiving the strength of the foe, abandoned the field 
and the bridge, either because of fear or because of the treachery of the 
Count of Caserta. This man had little love for Manfred, who in his un- 
bridled lust had lain forcibly with the wife of the aforesaid count, who was 
mightily affronted thereanent, and desired to avenge himself by betraying 
his leader. Wherefore, having left Ceprano, the leaders did not return 
to San Germano, but withdrew to their castles. After King Charles 
had taken Ceprano, he captured Acquino without opposition, and the 
rock of Arci, the strongest place in the country, and then advanced on 
San Germano, the garrison of which, because the place was strong and 
well victualled, made light of King Charles's forces, and, by way of dis- 
paragement, called out to the knaves who watered the horses, ( And 
where is your Carlotto ? ' Whereupon the French varlets began to 
bicker with those inside the town, and the whole host of the French 
was on the alert on account of the uproar, fearing lest the camp should 
be assailed, and running armed towards the field. The men of the 
town kept not due watch, and were too late in gaining the wall. 
Meantime the French delivered a fierce assault, and attacked in 
several places, those who had no better shields taking the saddles from 
their horses and advancing with these on their heads towards the wall. 
The Count of Vendome and his brother were the first to arm them- 
selves. They went after the varlets of Manfred, who had come out to 
skirmish, and in pursuit they followed them through a little door which 
had been opened for retreat. They ran into great danger, because the 
gate was strongly guarded, and many of the count's men were killed or 
wounded ; but he and his brother fought so stoutly that they held the 
gate, and entered and set their standard on the wall. The exiled Guelfs 
of Florence followed under the Count Guido Guerra, with Messer Staldo 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 271 

Giacopi de' Rossi as standard-bearer, and they fought wondrously well. 
Then those outside took courage, and many entered ; when the garrison, 
seeing the standard of the foe on the walls, fled, and only a few remained 
to fight. In this battle the host of King Charles won the whole of San 
Germano, and the day was the 10th of February, 1266. 

This feat was deemed a wonderful one, because of the strength of the 
place, and because of its garrison of a thousand horse and five thousand 
foot, many of them Saracens of Nocera. But the night before a quarrel 
arose between the Christians and the Saracens, wherefore they were not 
well set for the defence of the place. This strife arose partly by God's 
will, and was in a measure the reason of the fall of the town. Many 
of Manfred's army were killed or taken, and Charles let his soldiers rest 
there awhile. Manfred, hearing of this loss and of the retreat of his 
beaten army, was greatly dismayed, and took counsel of the Count of 
Calvagno and others as to what he should do, and these urged him to 
fall back with all his force on Benevento, so as to accept battle on his 
own ground ; to retreat towards Apulia, and also to bar the way to 
Charles, who could only enter Naples and Apulia by way of Benevento ; 
and this was done. When Charles heard that Manfred was at Bene- 
vento he marched from San Germano in pursuit of him, avoiding the 
direct road by Capua and the Terra di Lavoro, because the bridge of 
Capua with its strong towers barred the way. The stream was in flood ; 
so he marched by Lisi over the rough roads of the mountains of 
Benevento. He lost no time, being very short of munitions, and by 
midday approached Benevento by the valley opposite the city, about 
two miles from the river Calore which runs below. Manfred, when he 
saw the approach of King Charles, determined to give battle, and to 
lead his horse to attack King Charles and his wearied troops, but in this 
he acted unwisely ; for, had he tarried a day or two, he might have 
seen his foe dead or captive without striking a blow, through lack of 
victual. In sooth, for several days divers of the French soldiers had 
lived on horseflesh, and the gold was all spent. The forces of Manfred 
were scattered, Conrad of Antioch being in Abruzzi, Count Frederic in 
Calabria, and the Count of Vintimiglia in Sicily ; wherefore, had he 
waited till his forces had been joined, he must have won the day ; but 
God takes away the wits of those whom He dooms to evil, 

Manfred went forth with his army in three divisions, and crossed the 
river at Santa Maria della Bradella, at the spot called the red rock. 
The first division was of burly Germans, twelve hundred horsemen led 
by Count Calvagno ; the second of Italians and Lombards, and a few 

272 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

Germans also, a thousand strong, led by Count Giordano ; and the 
third of Apulians and Saracens of Nocera, under Manfred himself, 
numbering fourteen hundred cavaliers, not counting the archers and 
footmen, who were many. Charles, when he saw that Manfred had set 
his host in order of battle, took counsel as to whether he should accept 
battle at once, or tarry somewhat. The greater part of his barons 
advised delay, to let the horses recover the fatigue of their heavy march ; 
but Messer Gilles le Brun, the Constable of France, advised otherwise, 
declaring that delay would cause Manfred to take heart, that they were 
without supplies, and that, even though the rest held back, he and 
Robert of Flanders and his troop would try the risk of battle, for they 
trusted that God would give them victory over the foes of the Church. 
Having heard this counsel, King Charles gave heed thereto, and, being 
ardent for battle, spake thus to his barons, ' Come on boldly, for God 
is on our side, and we shall surely conquer.' Then he bade the trumpets 
sound, and that all should array themselves for the fight. He quickly 
set his host in three divisions : the first, a thousand French horsemen 
under Philippe de Montfort and the Marshal of Mirepoix ; the second 
was led by King Charles and Count Guy de Montfort, and therein were 
many barons of Rome and Provence and nine hundred cavaliers, the royal 
banner being carried by Messer Guillaume, a worthy gentleman ; and 
the third, seven hundred cavaliers, Picards and Flemings, was under 
Robert, Count of Flanders, and Gilles, Constable of France. Besides 
these were the exiled Guelfs of Florence and divers other Italians, four 
hundred cavaliers in all, many of them sprung from the great houses of 
Florence, and honoured by knighthood from King Charles himself. 
The standard was borne by Messer Corrado Montemagno of Pistoia. 

As soon as Manfred saw this array he inquired about this last-named 
squadron, because it appeared so well provided with arms and horses, 
and it was told him how these were exiled Guelfs of Florence ; where- 
upon Manfred cried in lamentation, c Where is the succour I get from 
the Ghibellines, whom I have served so well ? ' and he went on to say, 
c That troop cannot possibly suffer hurt to-day,' meaning thereby that, 
should he conquer, he would show himself friendly to the Florentines 
who had been so loyal to their leader. The armies of the two kings 
being thus set in array in the plain of Randella, each charged his men 
to bear themselves worthily, and King Charles gave as his battle-cry 
c Montjoi ' and King Manfred f Soala.' The Bishop of Auxerre, the 
pope's legate, gave blessing and absolution to all of King Charles's host, 
because they fought for the Church ; and then the leading squadrons, the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 273 

French and the Germans, met in sharp onset. The Germans attacked 
fiercely, and handled the French so severely that they had to fall back ; 
whereupon Charles, perceiving things were going amiss for him, changed 
his plan, which was to trust the fortunes of the day to the second 
squadron, saying to himself that if the French, who made up the first, 
and in whom he chiefly relied, should be routed, he could hope for little 
aid from the others. Wherefore he rushed with his own division to 
support the French against the Germans; and, as soon as the troop of 
the Guelfs saw how he was throwing himself into the fray, they followed 
hirn, and did wondrous service that day, keeping anear the king, as did 
the good Gilles, the Constable of France, and Robert of Flanders, and 
his division. On the other side Count Giordano led his company to the 
attack, and then the fight grew sharp and bitter, and lasted long, so 
that it was hard to say which side was winning, forasmuch as the 
Germans, using their swords with great strength and valour, wrought 
sore havoc with the French, in whose ranks a great cry arose, c Shorten 
your swords and stab the horses ;' and this was done, whereupon the 
Germans were speedily discomfited, and, many being slain, the squadron 
took to flight. King Manfred with his body of Apulians went to the 
rescue, and, when he saw that his Germans could no longer bear the 
brunt of battle, he heartened the Apulians to follow him ; but his words 
were ill received, and the greater part of the barons fled, amongst these 
being the chamberlain, the Count della Cora, those of Caserta, and 
others. This they did either through baseness of spirit as soon as they 
saw that Manfred was being worsted, or through treachery, like faith- 
less folk desirous of a new lord, and, having forsaken Manfred, they 
fled, some towards Abruzzo and some to Benevento. 

Manfred, being left with a few followers, willed, like a brave king, 
rather to die in battle than to fly shamefully, and, having donned his 
helmet, in which he carried a silver eagle as crest, this crest fell on his 
saddlebow, whereupon those who saw the same cried out to the barons 
around him, f Certes, this is a sign from God.' He valiantly threw him- 
self into the fight, but his followers soon gave way, for they had already 
turned to flee. Manfred was slain in the midst of the fray — some say 
by the hand of a French esquire, but no one knows the truth. In this 
battle many fell on either side, but the greater loss was amongst Man- 
fred's troops, who, flying towards Benevento, were pursued by the 
soldiers of Charles, and, as night had fallen, they entered the place, and 
the soldiers of Charles having forced a passage at the same time, the city 
was captured. Many of Manfred's leaders were taken, Count Giordano 

N N 

274 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

and Messer Pietro degli Uberti, whom Charles sent prisoners to Provence, 
and slew them in the prison of Aspra Morte. Other German and 
Apulian barons he imprisoned in divers places, and afterwards he took 
the wife and the children and the sister of Manfred, who were given up 
to him by the Saracens of Nocera, and these died in prison. Truly 
Manfred was accursed of God, and a manifest judgment was wrought 
upon him, seeing that he was an excommunicated foe of the Church. 
They searched three days for his body in vain, and no one knew if he 
were dead, or taken, or in flight, because he had not worn his kingly 
crest. At last a rough country fellow recognized him by certain marks 
on his body, and, having thrown the corpse across an ass, he went cry- 
ing, • Who will buy Manfred ? ' wherefore he was well beaten by one 
of King Charles's barons. The body having been taken before Charles, 
he called for certain of the captured barons of Manfred's following, and 
asked if this were their leader; whereto they, being full of fear, replied 
that it was, and Count Giordano, covering his face with his hands, cried 
out with tears, ' Alas, alas, my lord ! ' wherefore the French praised him 
greatly. Divers of the barons spake Manfred's praise, and begged King 
Charles to give his body burial. The king answered, ' Were he not 
excommunicated I would do what is due to him, but I am not minded 
that one excommunicated should be laid in hallowed ground.' On this 
account Manfred was buried at the bridge of Benevento, and every 
man in the camp cast upon the grave a stone, and made a mighty heap; 
but some say that, by command of the pope, the Bishop of Cosenza 
caused the body to be dug up, and sent it out of the kingdom, which 
was held to belong to the Church, and that it was buried by the river 
Verde. This battle was fought on Friday, the 6th of February, 1265. 
After the defeat and death of Manfred the followers of Charles 
reaped rich spoil, especially from the domains held by Manfred's barons, 
and soon all the lands of the kingdom and of Apulia, and well nigh all 
the island of Sicily, gave obedience to Charles, whose barons were in- 
vested with the lordships aforesaid. Having entered Naples, Charles 
was received with great honour, and he dismounted at the castle of 
Capua, built by the Emperor Frederic, in which he found Manfred's 
treasure. This he caused to be brought forth and laid on a carpet before 
himself, and the queen, and Messer Beltramo del Balzo, bidding Bel- 
tramo bring a balance and divide the treasure, giving each one some part 
thereof. But the high-souled Beltramo cried, * What have I to do with 
scales and the parting of your treasure ? ' Then he leapt up, and divided 
the treasure with his foot into three heaps, and said, ' One part for the 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 275 

king, one for the queen, and one for your barons;' whereupon the 
king made him Count of Vellino. Soon King Charles grew weary of 
the German mode of life, and built a new castle in the French fashion 
near to San Pietro, on the other side of Naples, and then he liberated all 
the Apulian barons, and gave to many of them lands and heritages, so as 
to win more favour in the land ; but with many of these his efforts mis- 
carried, as will appear from what will be told hereafter concerning the 
sinister conduct of certain Apulian barons towards him. Shortly after 
he had won the kingdom, his cousin Arrigo, the second son of the King 
of Spain, who had been in the service of the King of Tunis, heard of 
what his cousin had done, and crossed from Tunis to Apulia with more 
than eight hundred valiant Spanish horsemen. King Charles received 
him graciously, taking him into his service, conferring upon him the 
senatorship of Rome, which he himself had vacated, and making him 
warden of the Campagna. Don Arrigo had gathered great wealth in 
Tunis, and he lent to King Charles, who lacked money, forty thousand 
golden doubloons which he never recovered, and in consequence there 
arose great strife, which was further aggravated by the endeavour of 
Don Arrigo to get from the Church the island of Sardinia. King Charles 
coveted this likewise, and by reason of their quarrel neither got it. 

Through this strife Don Arrigo made of the king an enemy; but he 
had some right on his side, for Charles had all the land he wanted, and 
ought to have consented to let his cousin have some likewise, but envy 
and greed prevented him. Don Arrigo declared, c He shall slay me, or 
I him;' and it came to pass that Charles, now master of all, sent back 
the Guelfs to Florence, which city was granted to him for ten years. 
He marched into Tuscany, drove out the Florentine Ghibellines, laid 
siege to Pisa and Siena, and. recovered much territory for the commune 
of Florence. Meantime the Ghibelline exiles made a league with the 
Sienese and the Pisans, and Don Arrigo and divers barons of Sicily and 
Apulia, to seize upon certain lands there, and they sent to summon from 
Germany Conradin, son of Conrad, the son of the Emperor Frederic, 
to descend upon Italy and wrest the kingdom from Charles. Straight- 
way Nocera, which was held by the Saracens, and the Terra di Lavoro, 
much of Calabria, all Abruzzi save Aquila, and all Sicily except Mes- 
sina and Palermo, rose in revolt. Don Arrigo stirred up the Romans, 
the Campagna, and the parts thereabout, while the Sienese and Pisans 
sent to Conradin a hundred thousand florins to urge him on. Conradin, 
who was but a youth, set out against the will of his mother, a daughter 
of the Duke of Austria, and came to Verona with many barons and 

276 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

worthy men-at-arms in February, 1267. It is said that nearly ten 
thousand horsemen followed him as far as Verona for the sake of pay, 
and returned thence to Germany through lack of money, but three 
thousand five hundred of the best adhered to him. They marched by 
Pavia through Lombardy to the coast of Genoa, and, having come to 
Savona, they embarked by help of the Genoese and landed at Pisa, where 
Conradin was received by the Italian Ghibellines almost as an emperor. 
King Charles, having heard of Conradin's approach, and how the traitor 
barons of Sicily, whom he had released, had rebelled, quitted Tuscany 
for Apulia with all speed, leaving in Florence Guillaume de Belleforet, 
his marshal, with eight hundred French men-at-arms, to hold the city 
to his cause, and set himself to bar the advance of Conradin. 

Pope Clement forthwith despatched to Conradin two legates, who 
charged him under pain of excommunication to halt and do nought 
against King Charles, the champion of the Church. But Conradin would 
not let go his enterprise nor obey the legates, deeming the kingdom 
of Sicily and Apulia to be his patrimony; wherefore he fell under the 
ban of the Church, of which he made light. At Pisa he levied money 
and soldiers, and all the Ghibellines of the imperial party joined him. 
He remained ten days in camp at Lucca, and then marched on Pog- 
gibonzi, which had revolted from Charles, and next to Siena, where the 
people made him sovereign. The marshal of Charles, marching from 
Florence to Arezzo, was overthrown by Conradin, wherefore all the 
Ghibellines rejoiced greatly ; and Conradin, after tarrying at Siena, went 
to Rome, where he was greeted by the Romans and Don Arrigo as 
emperor with the highest honours. Here he raised more men and 
money, and pillaged the treasuries of Saint Peter's and other churches, 
and found himself at the head of over twelve thousand horsemen, 
German and Italian, besides the eight hundred stout cavaliers of Don 
Arrigo. When he heard that Charles was at Nocera in Apulia, he 
marched from Rome on the 10th of August with Don Arrigo and his 
force, avoiding the Campagna because Ceprano was well guarded, and 
taking the mountain road through Abruzzi and the valley of Colle, and 
came safely to Tagliacozzo in the plain of San Valentino. Charles, 
having heard of Conradin's march, advanced with his army from Nocera, 
and found his adversary at early dawn. Then he assembled his forces 
at Aquila, and after he had conferred with the townsfolk, he exhorted 
them to remain loyal and to victual his army; whereupon an old and 
wise burgher rose and said, * King Charles, have done with counsel- 
ling, and turn not from the task before you for the sake of resting 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 277 

yourself. Delay not to attack your foe, and stop his further advance. 
We will be true and loyal.' The king, struck by this wise advice, 
advanced forthwith and encountered the foe on the plain of San Valen- 
tino. He had with him less than three thousand horsemen ; wherefore 
Messer Alardo dei Valori, seeing the superiority of Conradin's host, 
advised the king that if he would conquer he must use strategy rather 
than force ; and the king, trusting to Alardo's counsel, let him marshal 
the army as he would. 

He made three divisions of the host ; one under Messer Arrigo di 
Consanes, a horseman stout and tall, whom he caused to be clad in the 
king's own raiment, and the soldiers were Provencals, Tuscans, and 
Campagnini. Jean de Croi and Guillaume L'Etendard led the next 
division, composed of Frenchmen ; and the Provencals were set to 
guard the river to keep Conradin from crossing. The last division, 
eight hundred knights of the flower of the army, was led by the king 
himself, and was placed ambushed in a valley, Alardo and Guglielmo 
di Villa Ordivina being with the same. Conradin made of his army 
three squadrons ; the first of Germans under the Duke of Austria, the 
second of Italians under Count Calvagno, and the third of Spaniards 
under Don Arrigo. While the armies stood thus breast to breast, the 
barons who had forsaken Charles, by way of terrifying him, caused 
certain men, who feigned to be envoys of the town of Aquila, to be 
brought into Conradin's camp with the keys of the city and rich presents, 
and messages saying how the town council had sent them to offer him 
the lordship and their own true service, so that he might rescue them 
from the hands of King Charles. Whereupon Conradin's host, judging 
this to be the truth, raised a fresh shout of joy, and this shout, being 
heard by the soldiers of Charles, made them fear amain lest they should 
fall short of victuals ; and the king himself, being informed thereof, 
became mightily anxious, and set forth by night with a small following 
and reached Aquila before morning. He asked the guards for whom 
they held the town, and they replied, c For King Charles.' He entered, 
and, without dismounting, bade them keep good watch, and returned to 
the army in the early morning, and went to rest himself from the fatigue 
of his double journey. 

Conradin, believing incorrectly that Aquila had revolted to him, drew 
together his force with great shouting, and advanced to cross the river 
and give battle ; whereupon the king set his force in array as above 
related. The Provencals, under Messer Arrigo di Consanes, guarded 
the bridge against the Spaniards of Don Arrigo, who, rinding the river 




278 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

low, crossed it by a ford and began to surround the Provencals. When 
Conradin saw how the Spaniards had crossed, he advanced fiercely to the 
attack and soon put to rout the Provencal division. The king's standard 
fell, and Messer Arrigo was slain. Don Arrigo deemed that it was the 
king himself who had fallen, because he wore the royal robes. The 
Provencals being routed, Conradin next defeated the French and the 
Italians, because his men were fierce fighters and double in numbers to 
the foe. The troops of Charles, when they saw this disaster, took to 
flight, and the Germans, deeming the day won, and witting not the craft 
of Charles, began to spread over the field for plunder. The king, with 
Alardo dei Valori and Guy de Montfort, stood on the hill above the 
valley where lay his division to watch the battle, and when he saw his 
forces routed one after the other, he was like to die of grief, and desired 
to move his division to the rescue ; but Messer Alardo, a practised 
leader, restrained him with temperate counsel, saying, c For God's sake 
endure a while longer if you would win the day,' for he knew the greed 
of the Germans and their lust for spoil, and he was fain to wait till 
more of them should go plundering. Then, when he saw they were all 
scattered, he said to the king, f Now advance, for the time has come.' 
When this division issued from the valley, Conradin and the others 
believed it to be one of their own, and kept no guard ; but when the 
king and his well-set force moved against Conradin's squadron, a fierce 
fight ensued, which, however, did not last long, since Conradin's men 
were weary with fighting, and he had not so many well-found horsemen 
as the king, and his ranks were broken by the dispersal of his soldiers in 
the hunt for prisoners and spoil. Conradin's forces waned fast under 
this unexpected assault, while those of Charles increased, forasmuch as 
the soldiers who had fled at first rejoined his divisions as soon as they 
beheld the king's standard. Conradin soon saw that the fortune of war 
was against him, and, under the advice of his chief barons, he and the 
Duke of Austria, and Count Gualferano, and Count Calvagno, and 
Count Gherardo da Pisa, and many others, took to flight. Messer 
Alardo dei Valori, when he saw the foe in flight, cried aloud to the 
king and the leaders of the divisions that they should not follow the 
enemy, fearing lest Conradin's soldiers should take them in an ambush, 
but should stand close ranked on the field; and it was done as he 

It happened that Don Arrigo, who with his Spaniards and Germans 
had followed into a valley the Provencals and Italians who had first been 
routed, observed not the company of King Charles nor the rout of 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 279 

Conradin ; thus, when he returned to the field and beheld the king, he 
deemed he saw Conradin and his following ; but having descended the 
hill he recognized the standard of the French, and was overcome with 
confusion. Being a leader of parts, he drew his men together to a halt ; 
whereupon Charles held off from the attack for divers reasons, because 
his troop was weary with fighting, and because he was not minded to 
push his advantage to excess ; thus they stood facing one another some 
time. Messer Alardo then said to the king that they must needs break 
up the squadron opposed to them in order to work its overthrow, and 
the king let him go his way ; whereupon he, with thirty or forty of the 
stoutest of his barons, left the ranks as if for flight, as he had instructed 
them. When the Spaniards saw this they cried out full of hope, c They 
fly ! ' and began to separate for pursuit ; while Charles, marking how the 
Spanish ranks were broken, charged briskly into their midst. Messer 
Alardo with his barons turned back warily, and a stubborn fight began, 
which lasted long, for the Spaniards were so well armoured that sword 
strokes failed to fell them, and they reassembled again and again, accord- 
ing to their wont. The Frenchmen with great daring seized them in 
their arms to hurl them from their horses, as in a tournament, and thus 
in a short time they were broken and in flight, many being slain. Don 
Arrigo fled with some others to Monte Cassino, proclaiming the defeat 
of King Charles, but the abbot, who was lord of those parts, knew Don 
Arrigo, and perceived clearly that he was a beaten fugitive, so he made 
prisoners of him and his following. King Charles kept on the field fully 
armed all through the night to collect stragglers and to make the victory 
sure. This battle was on the vigil of Saint Bartholomew in the year 
1268. Charles built a rich abbey for the sake of the souls of those of 
his troops who had fallen, which abbey was called Santa Maria della 

A wonderful thing happened concerning this battle fought upon the 
vigil of Saint Bartholomew — for by reason of the many rallies and changes 
it was night before it was known who had won. When, on the saint's 
day, Pope Clement was preaching at Viterbo, a thought entered his 
mind, and all the people marked how he was sunk in contemplation for 
some time. Then, having roused himself, he quitted the subject of his 
sermon, and cried, £ Run into the streets, and seize the foes of the Church, 
who are overthrown.' Now no news could have come to him in so 
short a time, for only one night had passed, and that battlefield was 
more than a hundred miles distant ; indeed, a whole day elapsed before 
tidings came, and many held for certain that the pope was informed of 

280 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

the victory by divine inspiration. Conradin, and the Duke of Austria 
and others, after their flight came to a seaport on the Roman shore called 
Asturi, which was under the Frangiapanni, nobles of Rome. Here they 
let prepare a light bark for flight to Sicily, deeming they might thus 
escape King Charles, as Sicily was wellnigh in revolt from him ; but, being 
recognized by one of the Frangiapanni, this man took them prisoners to 
Charles, who for this service gave to the Frangiapanni the lordship of 
Pilosa between Naples and Benevento. Charles, having his foes in 
hold, took counsel what he should do with them, and resolved to put 
them to death, which he did by judicial inquiry as to their acts, con- 
demning them as traitors to the crown and foes of the Church. Thus 
Conradin, the Duke of Austria, Counts Cal vagno,Gualferano, and Gherardo, 
and Count Bartolomeo and his two sons, were beheaded at Naples in 
the market-place, beside the brook running by the church of the Carmine. 
And the king forbade their burial in hallowed earth, since they were ex- 
communicated persons, but dug graves for them in the sandpits above 
the market-place. Thus with Conradin ended the race of Swabia, which 
aforetime produced such mighty kings and emperors. Certes, reason 
and experience as well teach us that whosoever goes against the Church 
must suffer, besides excommunication, an evil end both of soul and body. 
Although the commune of Florence may have had differences with the 
Church, such differences have been the work of evil rulers, by which un- 
seemly things have been brought to pass, and little by little great changes 
have occurred, as all men know. 

Charles was strongly blamed by the pope and cardinals, and by all 
men of understanding, for putting Conradin to death, seeing that he was 
a prisoner of war and not a traitor, and that it would have been wiser to 
keep him in hold than to slay him. Some, indeed, affirm that the pope 
was privy to his death, but this cannot be true, as he was a holy man. 
Again, by reason of the innocence of Conradin, who was in his youth 
sentenced to death, God began to work in marvellous wise against King 
Charles, letting divers troubles come upon him soon afterwards, what 
time he deemed himself at the height of his fortunes. Robert, son of 
the Count of Flanders and son-in-law of Charles, having read the doom 
of Conradin, smote with a dagger the judge who had given the same, 
and slew him, saying that it was unlawful to sentence to death so great 
and noble a gentleman. The judge's death was unpunished, because 
Robert was in high favour with the king, and all the barons deemed that 
he had acted rightly. The abbot of Monte Cassino, who had taken 
Don Arrigo, gave him up to Charles under promise that his life should 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 281 

be spared, so that he as a churchman might not be guilty of aught that 
was irregular. Wherefore the king, to keep faith with the abbot and 
because Don Arrigo was his cousin, slew him not, but doomed him to 
perpetual captivity in the castle of Monte Santa Maria in Apulia, but 
many of his rebel barons he killed by divers tortures. After Conradin's 
defeat all parts of the kingdom which had revolted surrendered without 
opposition, and the king dealt out evil fate to many of the rebel leaders. 
He sent Guy de Montfort and his brother Philippe, and Guillaume de 
Belmont, to Sicily, with a great fleet and a strong force of French horse- 
men, to subdue the revolted places of the island, the rebel leader being 
Corrado Capaccie, of the stock of the Emperor Frederic, who with his 
band held the country against Charles. After the aforesaid leaders had 
landed they conquered the rebel provinces, and captured Corrado, whom 
they blinded and hanged, and many others fared the same. When these 
were dead all the island returned to the sway of Charles, who reorganized 
the kingdom of Sicily and Apulia, rewarding his barons who had done 
him service with land and lordship. 

It chanced that Louis, King of France, brother of Charles, sailed to 
Tunis against the Saracens, where he and many other Christians died ; 
whereupon King Charles went thither with a great fleet and made terms 
with the King of Tunis, to wit, that all the Christian prisoners in Tunis 
should be set free; that churches and monasteries in which the holy 
office might be said should be built ; that Christ's gospel should be pro- 
claimed by minor and preaching friars, and that any Saracen who might 
wish to be baptized a Christian should have free leave therefor, and that 
the King of Tunis should pay every year to King Charles twenty thou- 
sand golden doubloons. But some say that Charles made the best terms 
he could, having fear of the bad air of Tunis, and departed at once for 
Italy. In the year 1 269 this Charles was the most potent and famous 
king in arms and counsel of all Christendom, and, at the prayer of the 
Emperor Baldwin, his son-in-law, whom Palaeologus had driven out of 
Constantinople, he undertook a famous expedition for the conquest of 
the realm aforesaid, so that with this city in his possession he might more 
easily regain the Holy Land ; wherefore he prepared a hundred light galleys, 
and twenty great ships, and two hundred transports for horses, and divers 
other barks, by his own abundant wealth and that of the Church, and by 
the aid of the King of France, and called upon the French and Italians 
and Venetians to join him. With this fleet and upwards of forty counts 
and ten thousand horsemen he prepared to set forth, and next year 
this expedition would certes have met with no opposition, seeing that 


282 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

Palasologus had no sea or land force capable of withstanding it, and much 
of Greece was in revolt, but by God's pleasure this project, was marred 
through the insolence of the French, who were so elated by the victory 
of Charles that they treated the Sicilians and Apulians as slaves, where- 
fore divers of the nobles rebelled, and amongst them was Messer 
Giovanni da Procida, a gentleman of great wisdom and parts. 

He carefully and diligently set to work to nullify the preparations 
of Charles, and met with no small success. He went privily to Con- 
stantinople to Palasologus, who had now regained the throne, and pointed 
out to him in what great peril he stood by reason of the forces of King 
Charles and Baldwin and the Church. Messer Giovanni went on 
to declare how, if the emperor would trust him and open his purse, he 
would mar this project, and stir up a revolt in Sicily by means of the 
nobles thereof, who disliked the rule of the French, and by the help of 
the King of Aragon, declaring to Palasologus that the king aforesaid 
would certes undertake the task of reclaiming the heritage of his wife, 
Manfred's daughter. Palasologus followed this advice, albeit he nursed 
but small hopes of success, for he knew the great power of Charles, and 
sent to Sicily envoys with money and rich presents. These forthwith 
began to discuss the matter with Messer Alamo da Lentino, and Messer 
Palmiere Abati, and Messer Gualtiero di Catalogna, the chief nobles of 
the island hostile to King Charles. These gentlemen gave to the 
envoys letters to the King of Aragon, begging him to come and deliver 
them from slavery, and offering him their allegiance. This done, Messer 
Giovanni repaired to Rome disguised as a minor friar, and contrived to 
get speech with Pope Nicolas III. at the castle of Soriana ; there he 
explained the matter in hand, and, having saluted the pope on behalf 
of Palasologus, gave him a rich gift, and, as some say, secretly 
incited him against King Charles by means of this present of money. 1 
Another reason for the pope's hostility was that Charles had already 
refused to allow matrimonial alliance between the pope's family and 
his own, wherefore the pope, as long as he lived, opposed the king both 
privily and openly. Then Messer Giovanni departed, bearing letters 
under the pope's secret seal, and went with the ambassadors to the 
King of Aragon in Catalonia in the year 1280, and when the king had 
read the letters of the pope promising aid, and of the Sicilian barons 

1 " che tu se' ben punito : 

E guar da ben la mal tolta moneta, 
Ch' esser ttfece contra Carlo ardilo." 

Dante, Inferno, xix. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 283 

promising revolt, and of Palaeologus, he privily accepted the task, and 
sent back Messer Giovanni and the envoys that they might occupy 
themselves in organizing the campaign, and remit to him money to 
pay for the equipment of the fleet. 

At this point progress was arrested by the death of Pope Nicolas, 
who died in the month of August, and the next year Messer Giovanni 
with the envoys went once more to Catalonia, with prayers to King 
Pedro to ally himself with Palaeologus, to accept the lordship of Sicily, 
and to begin war against Charles. Moreover, they handed to him 
a vast sum of money in order that he might prepare his fleet and the 
promised expedition, and presented fresh letters from Palaeologus and 
from the barons of Sicily. King Pedro waited some time to deliberate 
on account of the death of Pope Nicolas, the foe of Charles, which event 
had disturbed him greatly, but he was at last brought to a decision by the 
wise and persuasive words of Messer Giovanni, who showed what great 
injury it was to him that the French had slain his great grandfather, 
and that Charles had slain Manfred and Conradin, Manfred's nephew ; 
that he himself, both bylaw and inheritance, could claim the lordship of 
Apulia through his wife Costanza, Manfred's daughter, pointing out 
to him how the Sicilians were fain of him as sovereign, and promising 
to raise the island in rebellion against Charles. 

When the King of Aragon saw the great treasure sent by Palaeo- 
logus, he, being ambitious of winning new lands, swore afresh like 
a bold and valiant gentleman that he would forward this projecl secretly 
by the hands of the ambassadors and of Messer Giovanni, charging the 
last-named to return to Sicily and set his plans in order, and promising 
to let his fleet be on the seas in due time, and this he did. When Pedro 
had thus sworn and taken the money, thirty thousand ounces of gold, 
independent of the sum which Palaeologus had promised him as soon as 
he should be landed in Sicily, he equipped his fleet and took many 
knights and mariners into his pay, reporting that he was bound to fight 
against the Saracens. 

Rumours of these preparations having been noised abroad, Philip, 
King of France, the brother-in-law of the King of Aragon, sent envoys 
to inquire in what land and against what Saracens they were to be used, 
promising aid of men and money. King Pedro would not disclose his 
plans, replying that he was surely going to war against the Saracens, but 
in what place he could not yet reveal. This, however, would soon be 
known to all the world, and meantime the King of France might send 
him forty thousand tornesi^ which thing was straightway done ; but the 

284. SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

King of France suspected some Catalan villainy in Pedro, albeit he 
knew him to be eager and courageous, and sent word to Charles, 
his uncle, to have a care of his lands ; whereupon Charles let Pope 
Martin know of the King of Aragon's preparations and of the message 
of the King of France. Then Martin sent Fra Jacopo, a learned friar, 
to Pedro to inquire where he proposed to fight the Saracens, and to say 
that the pope desired to know this, so that he might lend his aid to an 
enterprise very dear to the Church, adding a command that Pedro 
should not attack any Christian power. The king charged the friar to 
thank the pope for his generous offer. He could not, however, give 
any hint as to whither he was bound ; and further declared that, if one 
of his hands knew what the other was fain to do, he would cut it off; 
whereupon the friar, having failed to learn more, took back these words 
to King Charles and the pope, who were mightily displeased therewith. 
But King Charles, being very haughty and conscious of his power, said 
scornfully to the pope, c Did I not tell you that Pedro of Aragon was 
a rogue and a thief ? ' forgetting the proverb, 'If you have lost your nose, 
put your hand over the place.' Furthermore, he took no care to inquire 
as to what was being done in Sicily. 

In 1282, on Easter Monday, the 30th of March, all the barons who 
were agreed with Messer Giovanni da Procida came, as he had given 
direction, to keep Easter at Palermo ; and when the citizens, male and 
female, as was their wont, went on foot and on horseback to the festival 
of Monreale, some three miles from the city, the French and the com- 
mandant of King Charles went likewise. It happened by the working 
of God's adversary that an insolent Frenchman made as if to deal dis- 
honourably with a Palermitan lady, who began to cry aloud; whereupon 
the people rose against the French, and a great fight took place, in 
which many on both sides were wounded. The Palermitans being 
worsted fled to the city, and then all the citizens assembled in arms on 
the piazza, crying, 'Death to the French!' as it had been arranged by 
the leaders of the revolt. After they had attacked the castle they slew 
the judge sent by King Charles, and a like fate befell all the French in 
the houses or churches within the city or without, all being killed with- 
out mercy. Then the barons aforesaid quitted Palermo, and each did 
the like in his own place, so that all the French in the island were 
slain, save in Messina, where the populace delayed their rebellion some 
days ; but, being stirred up by a letter of the people of Palermo, telling 
of their wrongs and exhorting the men of Messina to strike for liberty, 
they rose and outdid the Palermitans in their rage against the French, 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 285 

of whom they killed more than four hundred, while in the whole 
island more than four thousand were slain. This trouble spread 
through the island, and caused to King Charles the greatest loss of men 
and money. 

The Archbishop of Monreale quickly sent to the pope and to King 
Charles news of this disaster, and when King Charles heard the same he 
was mightily disturbed, both in mind and seeming, and cried out : 
1 Lord God, since it has pleased Thee to send upon me this ill fortune, 
take away my life as well.' Then he sought aid and counsel of Pope 
Martin and the cardinals, who condoled with him and heartened him to 
recover what he had lost, first by peace, and, failing this, by arms, and 
promised him all aid in their power, spiritual as well as temporal, as to 
a son and champion of the Church. The pope sent a legate into Sicily 
with divers letters and protests to treat for peace, while the Cardinal of 
Parma, a wise and virtuous churchman, went with King Charles into 
Apulia. Likewise King Charles made his plaint to the King of France, 
and sent his son to beg help from him, and the Count of Artois, and the 
other barons of France. This prince met with gracious reception, and 
the King of France spake thus : { Iam greatly afeared that this evil 
may have come about through the seeking of the King of Aragon ; for 
when he began to arm I lent him forty thousand tome si, begging him 
to inform me whither he was bound, but this he refused to do. But I 
will forswear my crown rather than let so great treason to the house of 
France go unavenged.' Then he bade the prince return to Apulia, 
and with him he despatched the Count of Lauzun of the royal house, 
and many other counts and barons and horsemen to help King Charles. 
At this juncture it seemed to the Palermitans and toothers of the island 
that their afFairs were going amiss, for they had heard of King Charles's 
preparations against them ; wherefore they sent an embassy of friars and 
priests to beg pardon of Pope Martin, and these, in delivering their 
message, said only, '•Agnus Dei, qui tollis pec cat a mundi, miserere nobis? 
and the pope in full consistory answered them simply by the words, 
f Ave, rex Judeorum, et dabant ei alapam> whereupon they departed 
greatly troubled in mind. 

Charles, having assembled his army to attack Messina, received aid 
from all his friends, and above all from the commune of Florence, which 
sent fifty knights fully equipped and fifty noble youths of the best 
houses of the city who desired to win knighthood. Besides these were 
five hundred well-furnished men-at-arms, and all were under Count 
Guido da Batifole. They arrived at Catona in Calabria, where they met 

286 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

King Charles with his forces on the way to attack Messina. When he 
saw the company sent to him by the Florentines, he thanked them, feel- 
ing that they were supporting him nobly, and he received them graciously 
and gave knighthood to divers of them. The king with his army and 
more than a hundred and thirty great ships and galleys set forth from 
Brindisi, and arrived before Messina on the 6th of July, 1282. Having 
taken the field between Vermena and Santa Maria di Rocca Maggiore, 
he advanced to Paleari near to Messina, while the fleet anchored at Faro 
opposite the port. He attacked the foe with more than five thousand 
men-at-arms and a countless mass of fighting men, and surrounded the 
place. Then the people of Messina began to fear sorely, seeing them- 
selves abandoned, for the succour of the King of Aragon seemed vain 
and remote ; wherefore they sent envoys to King Charles, begging him to 
pardon them for God's sake, and to send them out of the land. The 
disdainful king willed not to show mercy on them, but defied them to 
death as traitors to Church and crown, and bade them defend themselves, 
since he would come to no terms with them ; so, when they heard this 
hostile reply they knew not what to do, and for four days held debate 
whether they should resist or no. 

Just then the king ordered the Counts of Brienne and Belfort to ad- 
vance upon Faro with eight hundred horse and many more foot soldiers, 
and he likewise laid waste the country on the other side of the city ; 
whereupon certain of the Messinans with some of the people of Melazzo 
sallied forth in defence, but when they met the foe some fled back to 
Messina and some to Melazzo. Charles's soldiers in pursuit entered 
Melazzo likewise, and took the place ; and, when the Messinans knew 
this, they sent to the legate begging him to come and make the peace 
for them. He went and gave to the commune the pope's letter, which 
rebuked their folly in rising against King Charles in these terms : ' Cruel 
and treacherous Sicilians, Pope Martin III. sends due greeting to you, 
as breakers of the peace,slayers of Christians, and shedders of our brothers' 
blood. We command you, on reading this letter, to restore your city to 
our son and champion, Charles, King of Sicily, and to obey us and him 
as lawful sovereigns. In default you will be interdicted and excommuni- 
cated, according to the divine law, by the announcement of our spiritual 
doom.' Having read the letter the cardinal ordered them to come to 
terms with the pope and king under pain of spiritual penalties. Where- 
upon the Messinans chose for conference with the legate thirty good 
citizens, with power to treat, and they proposed these terms : that the 
king should forgive all their offences, that they should restore to him 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 287 

the city, paying him annually the tribute paid by their forefathers to 
King William, that they desired to be under Latin and not French rule, 
and that they would give him their obedience. 

These terms the legate sent to the king, begging him to accept them 
and accord his pardon, for the rebels would perhaps stiffen their demand, 
and the longer he delayed the worse terms he might have to make. He 
sent also the letters of the citizens themselves. The king having read 
the same was angered, and cried savagely, c These subjects and adversaries 
of ours ask for accommodation, and to enjoy such rule as pleases them ; 
but, since the legate will have it so, I will pardon them in this wise. 
They must hand me eight hundred hostages upon whom I may work my 
will. I will rule the city as I wish, and they shall pay me due tribute. 
If they like these terms they can have peace ; if not, let them look to them- 
selves.' But because the king refused the terms offered when the block- 
ade began — terms at the time very liberal and honourable — he fell into 
a twofold error, not considering the accidents possible in a siege, such as 
befell him, and such as may serve as a warning to others in like case. In 
sooth, he who is cursed with a violent and haughty temper can never bring 
his affairs to a good issue. When the delegates received the king's reply 
they called the people together, and let them know the same ; whereupon 
all cried out as in despair, ' Rather would we eat our own children than 
agree to these terms ; for any one of us might be in that eight hundred. 
Death rather than such surrender.' The legate, perceiving the hostility 
of the Messinans, was greatly angered, and laid them under excommunica- 
tion and interdict before he left, ordering all priests to quit the place 
within three days, which thing was done. Then he announced to the 
commune that, within fifty days, they must let appear before the pope 
some competent officer to hear and to promise to obey the judgment, 
and then he departed, greatly troubled in spirit. 

On his return to the camp the majority of the chiefs when they heard 
his report were greatly angered, deeming that it would have been better 
to get possession of the land on any terms, but so greatly was Charles 
dreaded that no man dare say aught but what pleased him. And when 
Charles held debate as to what was to be done, the chiefs advised him 
that, since he would not have the city on the terms offered, he should 
attack it on the side where it was unwalled and only protected with casks. 
In sooth, it would be easy to capture in fight ; and the Florentines in a 
skirmish overthrew the barriers, and some made their way in, and had the 
rest followed the city would have been theirs. But Charles bade sound 
the retreat, saying that he willed not to hurt this city of his, which yielded 

288 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

him such rich revenue, nor to slay the innocent children, but to capture 
it by siege and by the pressure of want, taking no account of the accidents 
of a long blockade. After he had been for two months before Messina 
— divers attacks having been made on the weak places — the Messinans, 
women, children, and masons working together, completed the city walls 
to resist the French attack, according to the song, which runs : 

In sooth it was a noble sight 
Messina's loyal dames to view, 
In robes disordered all bedight, 
Bear stone and lime the walls unto. 
Now may Christ work His wrathful will 
On him who does Messina ill ! 

In July in the same year the King of Aragon sailed from Catalonia 
with fifty galleys, bearing eight hundred knights, and other ships of 
burden also. Messer Ruggiero di Loria, a valiant knight of Calabria, 
was admiral, and the fleet sailed for Tunis, where the army laid siege 
to a town called Calle. Several fights took place, but the object was to 
gather news from Sicily. After the lapse of fifteen days, as it had been 
settled, Messer Giovanni da Procida and the envoys and officers of 
Messina arrived with full authority from all parts of the island to beg 
the King of Aragon to accept the sovereignty of the island and hasten 
to succour the city of Messina, now hard pressed by King Charles. 
King Pedro, when he considered how great was the power of Charles, 
and that his own equipment was but meagre, was somewhat afeared, but 
Messer Giovanni heartened and persuaded him. He saw, moreover, how 
all Sicily was ready to obey him, having suffered such ill handling from 
Charles, and that he might reckon on all the people ; so he replied that 
he was ready to relieve Messina. He gave over his campaign, and, 
having embarked his force, put to sea and came to Trapani at the 
entrance of the gulf. On his arrival Giovanni da Procida and all the 
Sicilian barons advised him to take the road to Palermo at once, and to 
despatch his ships thither. Then, when they should have tidings of the 
army of Charles and of the condition of Messina, they might make further 
plans. On the ioth of August King Pedro arrived at Palermo, and 
was received by the people as their sovereign with much honour and 
rejoicing ; only he was not crowned like their other kings by the Arch- 
bishop of Monreale, who had gone to the pope's court, but by the Bishop 
of Cefauduna, a small place which had revolted from Charles. After his 
coronation King Pedro let assemble a great meeting of all the nobles of 
Sicily to deliberate as to what should next be done. When these saw 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 289 

how small was the king's force compared with the army of Charles, they 
were greatly afeared, and ordered Messer Palmiere Abati to speak their 
mind. He gave the king thanks for his coming, declaring that, if he 
had come with greater force, his promises of help would have been most 
welcome, for King Charles had at his back more than five thousand men- 
at-arms and vast numbers of others. They feared lest Messina should 
surrender through lack of victual, and they advised him to seek farther 
alliances in order to retain the other parts of the island. As soon as King 
Pedro learned their views he was greatly affronted, and resolved to quit the 
island if Charles should advance towards Palermo ; and while the debate 
was going on there came from Messina an armed bark with letters, telling 
how the place must need surrender in eight days' time through lack of food, 
and begging succour, without which it must submit to King Charles. On 
hearing this news King Pedro asked the advice of the barons; whereupon 
Messer Gualtiero di Catalogna stood up and said they must relieve 
Messina ; for, were this place lost, the whole island would be in sore peril ; 
that it behoved King Pedro to advance on Messina, and then King Charles 
would perhaps raise the siege. Giovanni da Procida answered that 
Charles was not the man to be easily driven away, but that with the 
powerful cavalry he had with him he would surely await their attack. 
c It seems better,' he said, f that our king should send a message bidding 
him depart from these lands, the inheritance of the Queen of Aragon, 
confirmed by the Church and by Pope Nicolas. If Charles should refuse, 
let us get ready our light galleys and send them to Faro, where they can 
prey upon the vessels which bring provision for the French army. 
Thus with small risk and trouble we may besiege the army of King 
Charles, and make him retreat, for, should he remain, he and his army 
will die of hunger.' 

The king and the barons approved of this counsel, and two Catalan 
barons were sent to King Charles with letters written in these insulting 
terms : c To Charles, King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence. We 
announce our coming into this island assigned to us by the goodwill 
of the Church, and of the pope and worshipful cardinals, and we 
command you after reading these letters to depart therefrom with all 
your power and following. If you disobey, our trusty knights will 
fall upon you forthwith, and smite you and your host.' When the 
envoys had delivered these letters, the king and his barons took counsel 
over the same. It seemed to them a most presumptuous insult, this 
letter writ by the King of Aragon, a man of small account, to the 
greatest sovereign in Christendom. The Count de Montfort desired to 

P p 

290 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

wreak sharp vengeance upon him, and the Count de Bretagne was for 
answering the letter by commanding him to quit the island forthwith, 
dubbing him traitor and liar, and this counsel was adopted, the reply 
being couched in these terms : ' Charles, by the grace of God King of 
Jerusalem and Sicily, Prince of Capua and Anjou, and Count of Provence, 
to Pedro, King of Aragon and Count of Valencia. We marvel greatly 
that you have dared to enter Sicily, assigned to us as our kingdom by 
the authority of the Church of Rome, and we command you, on receipt 
of this letter, to depart forthwith as an evil traitor to God and the 
Church. If you should refuse, we challenge you as a foe and a traitor, 
and you to your cost will meet us face to face, for we desire to 
behold what your following and force may be.' When this reply was 
brought to King Pedro he held a council, and Giovanni da Procida 
said, c My lord, I bid you now as before to send your galleys forthwith 
to Faro, to seize the victualling ships of the French army ; then the day 
will be yours, for should King Charles stand his ground he and all his 
host will be captured or slain.' 

This advice was taken, and the admiral, Messer Ruggiero di Loria, 
a man of daring and valour beyond all other, got ready sixty light 
Catalan and Sicilian galleys ; but a spy of Messer Arrighetto da Genoa, 
Charles's admiral, saw what was being done, and sailed forthwith in a 
light bark to Messina, and told the admiral how the fleet of the King 
of Aragon was anear; whereupon Messer Arrighetto went to King 
Charles in council and cried, c In God's name let us cross over into 
Calabria, for I hear tidings that the King of Aragon's admiral is sailing 
hither with an armed fleet. Now, as our own strong ships are dis- 
armed, he will take and burn all our fleet without help if we do not 
retreat, and you, O king, and all your men will perish for lack of supplies. 
Judging by the report of my messenger this blow will fall in three 
days' time, wherefore delay not a moment, as the winter is at hand. We 
have with us no winter provision, and all your ships and men will 
perish on the shore if bad weather comes.' When King Charles heard 
these words he was greatly afeared, what though neither danger of 
battle nor any other mischance could have terrified him, and he said 
with a sigh, f Would to God that I were dead, now fortune has been so 
adverse to me, now that I have lost my kingdom ; albeit I wield a 
strong force both by sea and by land. I know not why it has been reft 
from me by people whom I have never harmed. Now I grieve that I 
did not take Messina on the terms I could once have made. But, 
since I can do nought else, draw off the army and let us cross over. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 291 

And upon him who is guilty of this treason, let him be priest or 
layman, I will have heavy vengeance.' On the first day the queen 
and all the craftsmen and part of the equipment crossed over. On 
the second the king crossed and all his host, save two leaders and 
two thousand horsemen whom he had left in ambush outside Mes- 
sina, so that if, after the raising of the siege, the Messinans should 
sally forth to forage, these horsemen might fall upon them and enter 
the place ; this being done, he and his army would return. The plan 
was good, but so was the counterplan ; for the Messinans got news 
thereof and forbade anyone to leave the town under pain of death. So 
the French in ambush, seeing they were discovered, left on the third day, 
and told the king how his stratagem had failed. Then Charles, who 
hoped somewhat thereanent, was doubly grieved, and all his force quitted 
Messina, which place was at its last strait, seeing that it held provisions 
for only three days. This was in the year 1282, on the 27th day of 

On the following day the admiral of the King of Aragon fiercely 
attacked Faro and took twenty-nine great galleys and other ships, 
amongst which were five from Pisa in King Charles's service. Next he 
sailed to Catona and to Reggio in Calabria, where he burned eighty of 
King Charles's transports, with the crews thereof. When he heard these 
tidings, King Charles, in his excessive grief and rage, gnawed the staff 
which he carried in his hand, and exclaimed, c Ah, God ! neither human 
wisdom nor the force of armies are of any avail against Thy judgments.' 
As soon as he landed in Calabria he bade farewell to all his barons and 
friends, and returned full of sorrow to Naples. On learning that Charles 
had quitted Sicily Pedro was overjoyed, and marched with his forces from 
Palermo to Messina, where he was greeted as the new sovereign, the 
deliverer from the hands of Charles. Now King Charles hastened to 
Rome and lodged a complaint before Pope Martin and the cardinals 
against Pedro, King of Aragon, who had taken Sicily from him, and 
declared himself ready to prove his claim by his sword. Pedro also 
sent envoys to the pope, contradicting this charge, and disclaiming all 
treachery. He declared that he had just title to all he had taken, and 
that he was ready to fight with Charles, man to man, on some neutral 
ground. It was agreed by oath, in the presence of the pope, that the 
two kings should fight with a hundred knights on each side, the most 
valiant that could be chosen, at Bordeaux in Gascony, the combat to be 
controlled by the seneschal of the King of England, the sovereign 
thereof; that the victor should possess Sicily with the consent of the 

29 2 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

Church ; that the vanquished should be recognized by all Christians as 
recreant and traitor ; that the name of king should be barred to him, 
and that he should be stripped of all his honours. 
. King Charles was greatly pleased, and deemed that great honour had 
been done him, for he was keen for battle and assured of his rights. 
Each one sought the best knights for the combat. More than five 
hundred French knights offered themselves to King Charles, together 
with divers bachelors of note from Germany and Italy, and many from 
Florence. Many Aragonese barons made offer to King Pedro, Spaniards, 
and Italian Ghibellines, and Germans of the Swabian line as well, and 
the son of the Saracen King of Morocco, who promised to become a 
Christian at once. King Pedro left Sicily for Catalonia so as to reach 
Bordeaux by the day fixed for the combat, and King Charles quitted 
Rome for the same place, travelling through Tuscany and embarking 
at Mutrone for Marseilles. It was said and proved afterwards that the 
King of Aragon from his sagacity and knowledge of warfare proposed 
this combat in order to induce King Charles to leave Italy, and so that he 
might not again send his forces against Sicily ; Pedro being in want of 
money, and not strong enough to defend Sicily against Charles and the 
Church. Moreover, he was apprehensive lest the Sicilians, through 
fear or some other reason, might turn against him, for he rated them 
as unstable, and therefore he bethought him of this prudent device. 
Having arrived in France, Charles furnished his knights with arms and 
horses meet for such a noble enterprise ; then he set forth from Paris 
with his nephew King Philip and many barons, and went to Bordeaux. 
When they were a day's journey therefrom, the King of France halted, 
and Charles with his hundred knights repaired to Bordeaux on the 
day appointed, which was in June, 1283. With his hundred well- 
armed knights he duly entered the field, where he waited all day for 
the coming of King Pedro, who did not appear. But it is said that 
towards evening Pedro went privily to the seneschal of the King of 
England to save his oath, and declared how he had gotten himself in 
readiness for the fight, but that when he had heard how the King of 
France was waiting with his force a day's journey distant, he had deter- 
mined to withdraw, being seized with fear of foul play. Pedro then 
returned to Aragon, riding ninety miles the first day. Thus Charles 
found himself tricked, and returned with King Philip to France. 

When King Pedro's default was made known, the pope and cardinals 
gave sentence upon him as one excommunicated and a usurper of the 
goods of the Church. He was deprived of the kingdom of Aragon 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 293 

and all his honours, and all who obeyed him or called him king were ex- 
communicated. But in a jesting mood he was wont to style himself, 
1 Pedro of Aragon, knight, father of two kings, and lord of the sea.' 
After his proclamation Pope Martin gave Aragon to Charles, Count of 
Valois, second son of King Philip of France, and sent a legate to France 
to confirm this and to preach a crusade against the King of Aragon. And 
King Charles by dispensation gave his granddaughter, the child of Charles 
his son, to this Charles of Valois, and with her the county of Anjou as 
dowry, because both he and her father were keenly set on war with the 
King of Aragon. In the year 1284, on the 5th of June, Messer 
Ruggiero di Loria, admiral of the King of Aragon, sailed from Sicily 
with forty-five galleys and armed barks for Naples, casting insult and 
defiance upon King Charles and his host, and challenging them to fight. 
Because he knew that King Charles was already on the sea somewhere 
near to Pisa, on his way back from Provence, he was anxious either to 
engage the fleet assembled at Naples, or to return to Sicily before King 
Charles should come up with him. By God's will it happened that the 
prince, King Charles's son, who was then in Naples, when he heard of 
the insults hurled against him by the Sicilians, manned his galleys with 
a mixed crew of horse soldiers and seamen, thus disobeying the commands 
of his father, who had forbidden him to make war in his absence. With 
thirty-six galleys and other light barks he sailed out of Naples to 
give battle. Messer Ruggiero di Loria, as a master of war, attacked 
vigorously, charging his sailors to take no heed of pursuit, to let all flee 
who would, and to strive chiefly to capture the galley with the standard, 
which carried the prince and divers barons, which command they obeyed. 
When his fleet was set in line, certain of the prince's galleys sailed out 
of port to meet it, but they turned to retreat because they were severely 
handled. Ruggiero let his fleet tack in the same fashion ; wherefore 
the prince was left with only that part of his ships on which were his 
barons and knights, who knew little of sea-fighting. Thus his ships 
were soon destroyed and captured, and he himself and many of his 
barons were made prisoners. They were taken to Messina, and put 
into the castle of Marta. 

After the defeat and capture of the prince, the people of Sorrento 
sent a galley with messengers to Ruggiero di Loria bearing four baskets 
full of early figs, of the kind they called Palombole> and two hundred 
gold agostari l as a gift to the admiral. When these came to the ship 

1 A coin first struck by Frederic II. 

294 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

where the prince was a captive, and beheld him nobly accoutred in the 
midst of his company, they believed that this must be Messer Ruggiero, 
so they knelt to him and made their offering, saying, f Messere, we 
bring these figs as the gift of your town of Sorrento, and beg you take 
these agostari as the price of a pair of cut hose, and may it please God 
that, as you have caught the son, you may likewise catch the father.' 
Then the prince began to laugh, in spite of his evil case, and said to the 
admiral, ' By the good God these men are indeed faithful to their lord.' 
The day after the battle King Charles came to Gaeta with fifty-five 
galleys and three great ships, and all his knights and barons and equip- 
ment, and when he heard of his son's capture he was mightily angered 
and said, c I had rather he were dead, seeing that he has disobeyed my 
commands.' He trusted little to the people of the land ; in sooth, 
already some of the Neapolitans were going about the streets singing 
and shouting, l Death to King Charles, and long live Ruggiero di Loria! ' 
Charles left Gaeta for Naples on the 8th of June, and he would not 
land at the port, but he landed at Carmeno with the intention of setting 
fire to the place on account of the cry which the people had raised 
against him. But Messer Gherardo da Parma, the cardinal-legate, and 
certain worthy citizens met him and begged for mercy, declaring that 
the people were mad. Whereupon the king reproached them, saying, 
c And why did you suffer these madmen to ad: thus ? ' At the prayer of 
the legate he spared the city, but he caused a hundred and fifty of the 
people to be hanged. Then he began to set his kingdom in order, and to 
arm the galleys he had brought with him to the number of seventy -five, 
and he quitted Naples on the 23rd of June, having despatched his fleet 
to Messina, while he went to Brindisi by land to bring together his 
Apulian forces and those of the principality, by way of preparing for the 
invasion of Sicily. He set sail with one fleet from Brindisi on the 7th 
of July, and met the other at Cotrone in Calabria, the two combined 
numbering a hundred and ten armed galleys, with many barks and light 
transports. At that time there arrived in Sicily two legates sent by the 
pope to arrange a peace and to redeem Prince Charles; and, while 
waiting for news of the legates, the afore-mentioned host began to suffer 
want, the legates having been kept in debate craftily by King Pedro 
without coming to any agreement, in order to prevent the invasion of 
Sicily by King Charles's force. On this account the king was advised 
to return to Brindisi, because the autumn was near and the season bad 
for naval warfare ; besides this, he found he needs must dismantle his 
fleet because of its vast size, and give rest to his sailors till the spring. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 295 

King Charles gave full course to his grief, both because of the capture 
of his son and of the ill-starred turn of fortune ; which grief, indeed, 
caused his death. He returned with his fleets to Brindisi, and, having 
disarmed them, he went to Naples to raise more men and money for 
service in Sicily next spring. In the latter part of December he went 
into Apulia to hasten on his preparations, and there, having been seized 
with severe sickness, he died on the 7th of January, 1284. Before 
his death he received devoutly the body of Christ, and spake thus : 
f Lord God, I believe Thou art my help ; that Thou wilt have mercy on 
my soul, and give me a mightier kingdom than Sicily, and forgive all 
my sins.' Shortly after he died, and his body, having been taken to 
Naples, was buried by the archbishop with great pomp and lamentation. 
This king was more famous and more dreaded, more richly endowed 
with valour and understanding, than any one of the house of France from 
the days of Charles the Great to his own, and the greatest support of 
the Church of Rome. And he would have wrought still greater deeds 
if fortune had not at last played him false. Robert, Count of Artois, 
the king's cousin, came to defend the kingdom, bringing with him many 
gentlemen of France, and likewise Charles Martel, son of Prince Charles 
and grandson of the late king, a youth of great promise, aged thirteen 
years. King Charles left no heir except Charles, Prince of Salerno, of 
whom mention has been made. This Charles was of fair and gracious 
presence, and begat many sons by his wife, the daughter and heiress of 
the King of Hungary, the eldest of whom was Charles Martel, after- 
wards King of Hungary ; the second, Louis, who became a minor friar 
and Bishop of Toulouse ; the third, Robert, Duke of Calabria ; the 
fourth, Philip, Prince of Taranto ; the fifth, Raymond, Count of 
Provence ; the sixth, Jean, Prince of Morea, and the seventh, Pierre, 
Count of Boli. 

The cardinals afore-mentioned having left Sicily without coming to 
terms, the people and the King of Aragon were greatly angered by the 
sentence of excommunication ; wherefore, after the death of Charles, 
the enraged Messinans ran to the prison where lay the French, and set 
fire thereto, and all those within perished most miserably. And it was 
God's justice which sent this exceedingly wrathful penalty upon the over- 
bearing pride of the French. After this all the states of Sicily agreed 
that Prince Charles, who was in prison, should be beheaded, as Conradin 
was beheaded by King Charles ; and this would have been done, if by 
God's will Queen Costanza, wife of Pedro, who was then in Sicily, had not 
taken heed of the peril which might befall her husband and children 

296 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

through the prince's death, and adopted a wise course. She informed the 
various syndics that it was not meet to carry out their sentence without the 
sanction of King Pedro, their ruler, and that the prince ought to be sent 
to the king in Catalonia ; then he, as lord, might do with him as he list, 
and this was duly done. Philip, King of France, was greatly angered 
against King Pedro on account of Pedro's hostility towards Charles, 
and of the petition sent by the pope, wherefore he collected at Toulouse 
a great army of twenty thousand horse and more than thirty thousand 
foot, bearing the cross. He left France with his sons Philip and 
Charles, and Messer Cervagio, called Giancoletto, the pope's legate, and 
went to Narbonne on the way to invade Catalonia and take the kingdom 
of Aragon which had been promised by the Church to Charles his son. 
He equipped a fleet of a hundred and twenty armed galleys, and had for 
ally James, King of Majorca, the brother and the foe of Pedro of 
Aragon, who had taken the island from him, and made his own eldest 
son the king thereof. 

In May, 1285, the army marched to Perpignan ; and, having come 
before the town of Jaci in Roussillon, which had revolted to Pedro 
from the King of Majorca, the French laid siege to the same and took 
it, slaying all the men, women, and children, save the bastard of 
Roussillon, who made terms for his safety. After its capture the town 
was completely destroyed, and then the army advanced to the foot of 
the Pyrenees, very high mountains on the confines of Catalonia. When 
King Pedro perceived that this great host was upon him, he was careful 
to avoid battle in the open, because his force was as nought compared 
with that of the French king, but took care to guard the passes, which 
he had caused to be strongly fortified in such places as armed men could 
pass over, and he himself saw that watch was kept and that tents and 
litter were provided to bar the passage of the foe. The French were 
stopped, for they could find no pass ; so at the last the king, advised by 
the bastard of Rousillon, armed the whole of his force and made feint 
of assaulting the pass with a part of the same, and, guided by the 
bastard, he led the rest by another path over the mountains. He left 
the greater part of his force and equipment on the other side, marching 
by divers ways barred by thorns and hard to be traversed by men. 
King Pedro had not blocked these ; wherefore the French with great 
labour made their way over. Pedro of Aragon, when he saw how the 
King of France had forced the mountains, gave up this plan of defence, 
and retreated with all his force, abandoning his camp and equipment, 
and retreating upon his own country. Then all the French host crossed 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 297 

with trains and armament without mishap, and joined themselves to the 

The army remained for three days upon the mountains in sore want 
of food ; then it descended upon Catalonia, and took Pietra Latta and 
Fichera, and other towns, the fleet laden with stores and arms being at 
Aigues Mortes in Provence. This was ordered to sail to Rosas, and 
the French then laid siege to Girona, a strong and well-stored town 
defended by Ramondo di Cardona with a numerous company. When he 
saw the hostile force Ramondo burnt the suburbs of the town, and made 
it all the stronger, working thus great damage to the French king, who 
swore he would not leave the town uncaptured. While the French 
tarried there, through the great heat and the quantity of carrion, 
there came all sorts of flies and hornets, which seemed to be poisonous, 
for both men and beasts died from the stings thereof. This sickness 
increased so much that the air was infected and many soldiers died ; 
whereupon the King of France, seeing how grave was the state of the 
army, wished heartily that he had not sworn his oath. During the siege 
of Girona the provisions were brought to the army from the fleet some 
four miles distance, and King Pedro and his troops intercepted, as often 
as they could, the escort guarding the victuals, wherefore the escort of the 
same cost the French much loss and labour. On the vigil of Santa Maria 
d'Agosto the King of Aragon lay in ambush with five hundred of his 
choicest horsemen and two thousand foot to intercept the French convoy, 
since he had been informed that this convoy was bringing the pay of 
the troops ; wherefore the king himself went with the expedition. News 
of this was brought by a spy to Messer Raoul de Nesle and to Messer 
Jean d'Harcourt, the constable and marshal of the French army, 
who took counsel with the principal knights how best they might deal 
with this ambush, and said, c If we send an escort in strong force King 
Pedro will not show himself for the fight, as he has done heretofore.' 
Then said Messer Raoul de Nesle, ' Gentlemen, if we would show our- 
selves men of mettle, and win this battle, let us go a small company, so 
that the foe may deem us an easy conquest.' They did as he counselled, 
and sent the Count de la Marck with three hundred other knights against 
the ambushed force of the King of Aragon, who, as soon as he saw how 
scant their number was compared with his force, left his foot soldiers 
in the rear, and hastened to the attack. The battle was a sharp one, as 
it was bound to be with such valiant and well-tried champions, and in 
the end the French overthrew the King of Aragon, who was severely 
wounded in the face with a lance and detained a prisoner by the reins 


298 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

of his bridle, wounded as he was. But he cut the reins with his sword, 
and spurred his horse, and escaped to his following. 

Many fell in this battle, some two hundred stout horsemen of 
Aragon and Catalonia, and many were wounded. King Pedro returned 
to Villafranca, and through the ill tending of his wound, or, as some 
say, through having lain with an unclean woman, died on the 9th of 
November, 1285, and was buried with great pomp at Barcelona. And 
before he died he restored by testament the island of Majorca to his 
brother, and made Manfred, his first-born son, King of Aragon, leaving 
Sicily to James, the younger ; but Manfred died early, and his brother 
got his kingdom. King Pedro was a worthy ruler, skilled in arms and 
very daring ; wise, and more highly esteemed both by Christian and 
Saracen than any other sovereign of his time. The King of Aragon 
being thus defeated, the King of France rejoiced amain, and pressed 
more closely the city of Girona ; and the people thereof, hearing how 
the King of Aragon had been defeated and mortally wounded, and being 
in sore straits for food, surrendered to the French, each man going free 
with whatsoever goods he could carry. 

The King of France, having garrisoned Girona, determined to 
winter at Tolosa, and a part of the fleet sailed from the port of Rosas 
back to Provence, when Ruggiero di Loria came from Sicily to Catalonia 
with forty-five armed galleys, to succour his sovereign's affairs. As soon 
as he heard that the French fleet, in lessened number and somewhat 
injured, was lying at Rosas, he attacked them with his galleys, and, 
with the aid of certain landsmen who had revolted from the French, the 
French were defeated and taken, and a great part of their fleet burnt or 
captured ; also their admiral, whose name was Enguerrand, was taken. 
The marshal of the French, with a large force of his horse and foot, 
advanced to strike a blow for the King of France, but they could do but 
little to succour the ships, and, having seen all of them taken, they set 
fire to Rosas, and returned to the French army. King Philip, seeing 
how evil was the turn of fortune, fell into deep melancholy, and sore 
sickness came upon him, so that the barons held a parley as to striking 
camp, and this they did. The King of France was borne in a litter ; 
and when they came to the pass of the Pyrenees they found the same 
barred to them, and were forced to engage in a long and stubborn fight, 
forasmuch as the Catalans were on the alert to capture the king's litter. 
After great slaughter and loss of prisoners the French forced their way 
through, and, having come to Perpignan, King Philip by God's will 
passed from this life on the 6th of October, 1285, and his body was 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 299 

taken to Paris. This attempt against Aragon led to the greatest loss of 
men and horses and treasure that had ever befallen the house of France; 
and Philip the Fair succeeded to the throne. 

The Count de Montfort, who was the guardian of Charles Martel,the 
young king, the son of Charles II., invaded Sicily and took the city of 
Agosta, but soon afterwards was defeated at sea by Ruggiero di Loria. At 
this time Prince Charles was released from prison at the instance of 
Edward, King of England, on giving a promise to the King of Aragon 
that he would use his best persuasion to induce Charles of Valois, the 
brother of the French king, to renounce, with the pope's permission, the 
right to the kingdom of Aragon which the Church in Pope Martin's time 
had granted to him. He swore likewise that he would return to his prison 
within three years from that day, and in confirmation of his promise he 
left as hostages his three sons, Robert, Raymond, and Jean, and fifty of 
of his best trusted knights, and paid also three thousand gold marks. 
This done, he went to France to procure the renunciation aforesaid, but 
he found no means of bringing about his desire, and in the same year, on 
the 2nd of May, on his way from France, he went to Orvieto, where the 
pope then was. At Florence he was received with high honours and 
rejoicing, and with a gift of much money ; and having departed from 
Florence he went to Siena. Soon after his departure news was brought 
to Florence how a company from Arezzo was preparing to fall upon the 
Sienese in order to put an affront upon the prince, who had but a slender 
escort; whereupon the Florentines forthwith assembled the flower of 
their citizens, to the number of eight hundred horse and three thousand 
foot, to serve as a guard to him on his way. The prince took in very 
good part this service in his honour, this ready and unsought assistance 
given by these excellent citizens ; and his adversaries, when they heard 
that he was escorted by the Florentines, did not dare to put this insult 
upon him. The Florentines marched with the prince beyond Bricola,on 
the confines of Siena and Orvieto, and there they asked the prince to 
assign to them a captain for their forces and to allow them to bear the 
royal ensign, which they were then carrying in their ranks. The 
prince granted both these requests, and assigned to them Amerigo di 
Narbonne, a gentleman of great parts, to be their captain, who rode 
back to Florence with the cavalry. 

The prince went on to meet Pope Nicolas IV., being graciously 
received by him and the cardinals at Rome on the day of Pentecost. 
He was crowned with great state King of Sicily and Apulia, and the 
Church granted to him many gifts and assistance by subsidy and tithes 

300 SER GIOVANNI. [day xxv. 

in aid of the Sicilian war, and this done he went to his kingdom. Now 
the Count of Artois, the seneschal of King Charles's army in Calabria, 
led his force against the castle of Catanzante, which had revolted to 
James, who called himself King of Sicily. This James and Ruggiero di 
Loria disembarked from the fleet with five hundred knights to raise the 
siege, and fought a stubborn battle with the French. The French were 
victors, and Ruggiero di Loria retreated to his galleys with the remnant 
of his force. It is to be noted that Ruggiero di Loria was never worsted 
before or after, save in this one battle." 

Saturnina having brought her novel to an end, Auretto said, " My 
Saturnina, you have indeed carried off the honours in this day's story- 
telling, forasmuch as this last story of yours outdoes in worth all those 
which I myself have told. So as to win full credit for the same you 
have kept it to the last. Now I will sing you a canzonet," and thus he 
began : 

Love, thou hast stayed that yearning in my breast, 
With which it hath been long time sore distrest. 

I thank thee for that gentle courtesy, 
Which thou to me hast diligently paid. 

Now may my heart be set to honour thee, 
And thy command be ever more obeyed, 
For thou in all thy gracious might arrayed 
Hast ever given me of thy store the best. 

I bless the toil, the weariness, the sighs, 

And all the bitter tears that I have shed ; 
The woeful thoughts, the pains, and piteous cries 

Which in my verses o'er these sheets I spread. 

I bless the lovesome art which me hath led, 
Which stills my longing in fulfilment blest. 

A thousand miles of gratitude sincere 

I give thee, lord, for this thy grace to me, 

Which thou in purest faith hast made me share. 
Thine, as I am and have been, will I be. 
If I should fail, I'll beg thy clemency, 
Thou who dost stand my bosom's lord confest. 

My song, thou shalt to lovers celebrate 

The favour which my lord hath done to me, 
That lovers all may deem them fortunate, 
And each one follow love in his degree, 
As I have done, and plucked its blossom free, 
And housed love in my heart, a biding guest. 

novel ii.] SER GIOVANNI. 301 

When the song had come to an end the two lovers embraced one 
another again and again, feeling delight even beyond their wont, and 
exchanging many sweet and lovesome words. To this I can testify, as 
a witness of the same, forasmuch as many and many a time I myself was 
present during the delightful and pleasant exchanges aforesaid, concerning 
which I have written, and can affirm that nought of unseemliness was ever 
there. 1 Thus Frate Auretto received from the conversation of Saturnina 
all the delight that an honest lover could desire. Then they made an 
end of their colloquies and pleasant conversations, and each one departed, 
God speeding. 

1 In the Proem the author promises that the reader shall learn something of his 
fortunes during the perusal of the book, but he never speaks a word of himself till he 
comes to this concluding sentence, and the allusion here made is a curious one. 
Auretto and Saturnina have always been represented as being by themselves during the 
story-telling, and now Ser Giovanni declares that he was often present — a remark which 
lends weight to a theory that the setting of the stories was in a way autobiographic, 
and that the writer and Frate Auretto were one and the same person. 













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Cjjree iftotoels, taken from a manuscript of r&e 

"#ecorone" of £>er dftotoanni jFforentmo, 

tofncf) are not fount) in t&e took as first printen. 


N the year 1333 Pope John was at Avignon, and he 
there published an opinion, which, in sooth, he had 
formed more than two years before, concerning the 
vision of those souls which have passed out of this 
present life ; that is, he preached on divers occasions 
in public consistory, before the cardinals and chief 
prelates, the doctrine that no single saint, save and except the Blessed 
Mary, would have power to behold the beatific hope, to wit, God, the 
Trinity, the very Deity. He declared that they would be able only to 
discern the human nature of Christ, that which He took from the Virgin 
Mary, and that they would have no more distinct vision than this till the 
sounding of the archangel's trump, when God would come to judge the 
world, saying, " Venite, benediffi patris mei, percipite regnum^ and to the 
damned, il Ite, malediffi, in ignem sternum" From thenceforth the perfect 
saints would see clearly the vision of the infinite Deity, and the punish- 
ment of the damned would be in contrary wise. For as with the saints 
the happiness consequent on their well-doing will not be complete until 
after the day of judgment ; so, according to the pope's utterance, the 
punishment of the damned would not be fully felt till the same time. 
Wherefore it is to be remarked that, in the pope's opinion, hell would 
not begin till there should be spoken the words, " Ite, maledifti, etc? 
This opinion he supported by proofs and arguments, and by weighty 
authority and the sayings of the saints. This inquiry was displeasing to the 


greater part of the cardinals ; nevertheless the pope directed them and all 
the doctors and prelates of the court that, under pain of excommunica- 
tion, they should all study this question of the vision of the saints, and 
should report to him what their opinion, whether adverse or favourable, 
concerning the same might be. He protested that he spake not with 
any bias towards this side or that, but that what he said and put forward 
concerning the tenet aforenamed was by way of godly disputation and 
practice in the endeavour to find out the truth. But in spite of all his 
protests men said and perceived by his doings that he held to the 
opinion he preached, forasmuch as, if any doctor or prelate should bring 
forward authority or word of the saints in favour of the pope's opinion, 
he would listen willingly, and thank the speaker. 

It chanced that the general of the minor friars, who was a creature 
of the pope and from the same country, preached this doctrine at Paris; 
whereupon he was taken to task by all the Parisian doctors of divinity, 
the preaching friars, the Eremites and Carmelites, and by King Philip 
himself. The king reproved him sharply, saying that he was a heretic, 
and that if he did not withdraw from such erroneous doctrine he would 
be burnt as if he were a Paterin, forasmuch as he tolerated no heresy in 
his kingdom, not even from the pope himself; but since the preacher 
had stirred up this false doctrine, the king wished him to maintain the 
same, the king undertaking to prove him to be a heretic, and declaring 
freely as a faithful Christian that it was vain labour for men to pray to 
the saints, and nourish hopes of salvation through their merits, and to 
invoke our Blessed Lady Mary and Saint John, if Saint Peter and Saint 
Paul were not to behold this vision till the day of judgment, nor to enjoy 
perfect bliss in life eternal. Moreover, that if every indulgence given by 
the Church on account of this doctrine, aforetime or in these days, were 
now to be annulled, a mighty error would arise and grave injury to the 
Catholic faith. But in the end this doctor preached opinions exactly 
opposite, declaring that whatever opinions he had advanced had been 
advanced for the sake of argument, and that what he held as his own 
opinion was the doctrine held and pronounced by Holy Church. 
Concerning this matter the King of France and King Robert wrote to 
Pope John, reproving him courteously for that in argument he had 
favoured the doctrine aforesaid as an aid to truth; moreover, that it was 
not seemly on the part of the pope to stir up those questions which were 
deemed hostile to the Catholic faith, but rather to give judgment on the 
same and suppress them. With these utterances the greater part of the 
cardinals, those who were adverse to the pope's opinion, were well 


pleased. And for this reason the King of France dealt haughtily with 
Pope John, and no more sought from him anything which he felt might 
be refused. And this was the chief reason why Pope John showed to 
the King of France such condescension as to give him information con- 
cerning the lordship of Italy and the Empire, by means of negotiations 
initiated by the pope himself. The question aforesaid continued to be' 
a subject of debate in the papal court as long as Pope John lived, and 
for more than a year afterwards. Then it was declared as an estab- 
lished tenet that anyone who held the doctrines of Pope John was not 
to be looked upon as a true believer. 


T a certain time it chanced that the college of cardinals 
elected as pope a cardinal of the house of Orsini, who, albeit 
he was but a youth when he became a priest and then a 
cardinal, carried himself most righteously and led a cleanly 
life and virgin. But after he became Pope Nicolas he grew high-minded, 
and, stirred up by the ambition of his intimate associates, he took in 
hand divers projects to advance them to high place. He was the first 
pope who let simony be practised openly in his court for the sake of his 
kinsfolk; wherefore he got great wealth of possessions, of castles, of 
money, and of men in his service, beyond every other Roman, and his 
kinsfolk waxed even stronger. Amongst other things, at the prayer of 
Messer Gianni, his cousin, the head of the house of Colonna, he made 
a cardinal of Messer Jacopo del la Colonna, so that the Colonnas might 
not lend their aid to the Aniballechi, the pope's enemies, but join their 
forces with his own. This was reckoned to be a great stroke, inasmuch 
as the Church had prohibited to the Colonnas and all their descendants 
the enjoyment of any ecclesiastical benefice ever since the days of Pope 
Alexander III., because the Colonnas had then supported the Emperor 
Frederic against the Church. 

About this time Pope Nicolas began to build the great and noble 
papal palaces which are now at St. Peter's in Rome. And he took 
offence at King Charles because, when he sought to form an alliance 
with the king by uniting his own niece in marriage with Charles's 
nephew, the king was not minded to assent, saying, "Though the pope 
does wear red stockings, his blood is not good enough to mix with ours, 


and his lordship is not hereditary." The pope, being affronted thereby, 
withdrew his friendship from the king, and secretly worked against his 
interests. Likewise he openly procured the denial to Charles of the 
senatorship of Rome and the imperial vicarship, which he held as head 
of the Church during the vacancy in the empire, and offered strenuous 
opposition to all King Charles's undertakings. And through his avarice 
he leagued himself with Palasologus to bring about the treason and 
rebellion against Charles which arose in Sicily. He also took from the 
Church the castle of Sant' Angelo in Rome, and granted the same to 
Messer Orso, his nephew. Then this pope obtained the grant of the 
county of Romagna and the city of Bologna from Rudolf, King of the 
Romans, who was still under obligation to the Church with regard to 
the promise he had given to Pope Gregory at the council of Lyons on 
the Rhone, what time the pope had incited him to come into Italy and 
set in order his expedition over seas, which he had never done by reason 
of his other undertakings and wars in Germany. He could not legally 
procure the reversion of this grant to the Church for many reasons, 
amongst others because Rudolf had not come to receive the blessing as 
emperor ; but the clergy are slow to resign what once comes into their 

As soon as the pope obtained the grant of Romagna he used the 
power of the Church to make his nephew, Bertoldo Orsini, count 
thereof, and despatched him thither with a force of men-at-arms, sending 
with him as legate Messer Fra Latino da Roma, the cardinal of Ostia, 
also his nephew, the son of his sister, and Brancaleoni, who held as an 
hereditary post the chancellorship of Rome. This project he under- 
took so as to lay hands upon the dominions of Count Guido da Monte 
Feltro, who ruled the same tyrannically ; and it came to pass that in 
a short time the whole of Romagna fell under the sway of the Church. 
Moreover, the legate aforesaid by his judicious dealing was able to bring 
into accord the Guelfs and Ghibellines of Tuscany and Romagna, 
achieving the greatest success in the city of Florence, and in May, 1281, 
Pope Nicolas III. of the house of Orsini passed out of this life at 
Viterbo, whereupon King Charles rejoiced amain. He did not indeed 
find out the treacherous design framed by Messer Giovanni da Procida 
and Palaeologus with the pope aforenamed, but he was well assured that 
the pope had been set to thwart him in every enterprise, and had brought 
confusion upon the design he had framed to attack Constantinople. 
Therefore, finding himself in Tuscany at the time of the pope's death, 
Charles went straightway to Viterbo to procure the election of a pope 

R R 


who should be in his interests. He found the college of cardinals 
greatly divided, one party composed of the Orsini cardinals and their 
friends, who desired a pope to their own liking, and the others, who 
held with King Charles, wanted the opposite. After the chair had been 
empty more than five months, the cardinals came out of conclave without 
having come to agreement ; whereupon the people of Viterbo, at the 
request of King Charles, haled off to prison in shameful wise Messer 
Matteo Rosso and Messer Giordano, the Orsini cardinals, the leaders 
of their party. Then the other cardinals elected as pope Messer 
Simon de Tours, cardinal of France, who took the title of Martin IV. 
He was a man of lowly birth, but he proved a generous and intrepid 
ruler of the Church, and showed no greed either for himself or for his 
kinsfolk ; indeed, when his brother came to see him, he sent him back to 
France straightway with some trifling gift, saying that whatever goods 
he held were held for the Holy Church, and not for himself. This 
pope was a firm friend to King Charles, and reigned three years, one 
month, and twenty-seven days. As soon as he was elected, he made 
Count of Romagna Messer Jean d'Apia, a Frenchman, in order to 
remove therefrom Count Bertoldo Orsini, and excommunicated Palaeo- 
logus and all the Greeks because they obeyed not the Church of Rome. 
This pope built the fortress and the great palace of Monte Fiascone, 
and there he often resided while he was pope, by reason of the seizure 
aforenamed of the Orsini cardinals by the people of Viterbo. After 
this the Orsini were friends neither of Viterbo nor of the Church, and 
it came to pass that they were obliged to restore many of the gifts 
which Pope Nicolas III. had conferred upon them. 


T Forli there once lived a gentleman who was enamoured of 

a certain nun, named Caterina, who had the most lovely face 

and the brightest eyes of any lady living at that time in 

Forli. Therefore, as this gentleman, who was called Ruberto, 

sought the lady's company, and perceived how fair she was and how 

1 Signor de Gubernatis says this was the penultima novel/a of the original MS. He 
also hints that " Domenkhi naturalmente soppressa la novella stessa, che deve invece diventare 
fondamento cornice e preteso romantico di tutto illibroper sostituirla con la novella di Demo crate" 
But all the editions which contain these last stories give this one as a substitute for Day 
XXV., Novel II. (Charles of Anjou), and not Novel I. (Democrate). 


virtuous her carriage, how angelic and delicate was the face under the white 
veil, how her two wicked eyes outshone the brightness of the sun, how 
her nose was finely formed, her little mouth delightsome with its delicate 
red lips, her chin rounded and slightly double, and her throat tender and 
lithe, he confessed he had never before seen aught so fair or precious. 
And whenever she might chance to smile the dimples which showed 
themselves on her rosy cheeks would have moved a heart of marble to 
love. In sooth the oftener Ruberto saw her the more he loved her. 

Thus it fell out that the more seemly the carriage of the lady, the 
more fair and delightful did she appear in the eyes of her lover, who 
became greatly enamoured of her, but he could find no opportunity to 
converse with her because he could not visit her dwelling. The 
lady took no heed of this, and perchance would never have known 
thereof, for she herself felt not the heat of passion within her fair 
bosom; but Ruberto was possessed beyond measure with love, and, 
witting not how he might get speech with her, he pined away, and in 
his heart was engendered a grief which could not find solace. On this 
account he almost ceased to eat or to drink ; and, as he lay in bed, 
physicians came often to visit him, and could not say what was amiss 
with him, while he for shame would not let them know. One day his 
sister came to him and said, " I desire that you tell me what ails you ; " 
whereupon he answered, " Nothing is the matter with me. In God's name 
go, and leave me alone." Then said his sister, " Certes, I will not leave 
you till you tell me this thing, for my heart assures me I may be able 
to help you, and you may with reason trust to me." And she spake 
with such persuasion that Ruberto disclosed to her his secret, weeping 
the while. He said, tc I am afire with love for this nun you know of, 
and verily I am being burnt up for her sake." Then said his sister, "Let 
not this melancholy trouble you. Leave all to me, for she is a dear friend 
of mine. I promise you so much, to wit, that I will go to her, and will 
not leave her till she shall have promised to do what you desire." And 
she did as she had proposed to do. 

She went straightway to Sister Caterina, and after much subtle 
persuasion she induced her to do as Ruberto desired. Caterina said, 
"I am willing that he should find opportunity to come hither, either by 
day or night, to visit me, but he must have a care not to say or do 
aught which may displease me;" whereto the other made answer, a Thus 
it shall be understood, for in sooth he has no other desire than to see 
you, and to work your pleasure. If I had suspicion that his mood ran 
otherwise, I would not have come hither. I am assured that your honour 


is dearer to him than aught else in the world." In the end they parted 
with the understanding that Ruberto should betake himself to visit the 
nun, and the sister went away highly pleased, and returned to her 
brother, who was anxiously awaiting her with inquiries as to how the 
matter stood. The sister replied, "All is well, forasmuch as I have 
agreed with her that you shall go to visit her at your convenience; where- 
fore take heart and make haste to get well, so that you may go do as 
you desire." 

Ruberto was overjoyed, and quickly sprang out of bed, saying, " Ah, 
my sister, you have worked my cure." The sister took in hand the 
bringing of the two together; and when night came, and the lover 
repaired to the place where Sister Caterina was awaiting him, they joy- 
fully embraced and conversed one with another, and made plans how 
Ruberto might go and come for the future. They continued their 
meetings so warily that for some long time they enjoyed fulfilment of 
their love with the utmost delight, the nun giving to Ruberto her 
unbounded love ; but at last by God's pleasure Ruberto fell sick and 
died. When his body, according to custom, was taken into the chamber 
where divers ladies were lamenting, and wrapped in a shroud with a 
cover of silken stuff over the same, sicche per lo pec cat o commesso col/a 
monaca il baldovino stava ritto. Essendo quest a sua sore I la iscapligliata 
intorno, ovvero allato a lui, vide il baldovino che teneva sollevato la 
coltre ; di che sapendo ella il fat to come era ito, per che ne fu mezzana, 
disse piangendo queste parole : " O fratel mio, or vi fussi tu entrato 
tutto; che saresti vivo come quello che tu vi mettesti." And she spake 
so loud that all the ladies heard the words. And if this be true, per- 
haps the lady spake not amiss, but it seems impossible to express a 
belief whether this saying be true or no. As for me, I am one of those 
who incline first to have proof of a thing in order to give afterwards a 

more valid judgment thereanent^ , 








Novel I. Imitations and Parallels. Masuccio, Novel XXI. In this the scene is also 
laid at Siena. Masuccio assigns 1266 as the date of the event. — "Les Comptes du 
Monde Adventureux " (Lyon, 1595), No. 37. 

Novel II. Imitations. Straparola, Night IV., Fable 4. — Doni, "Novelle," 38. — 
Moliere, "L'Ecole desFemmes." — La Fontaine, "Contes," "Le Maitre en droit." 
Shakespeare probably drew upon an English version of Ser Giovanni's tale for those 
scenes in which FalstafF describes the progress of his intrigue with Mrs. Ford. As 
this story does not occur in Painter, Shakespeare must have gone to Tarleton's 
" Newes out of Purgatorie," where the tale is told as that of the " Two Lovers of 
Pisa," or to the collection, " The Fortunate, Deceived, and Unfortunate Lovers," 
the first story of which, " Lucius and Camillus," is a translation from Ser Giovanni. 


Novel II. Source. "Les deux'Changeurs," Fabliau Montaiglon, i., p. 245. Imitations. 
" Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles," I.— Straparola, Night II., Fable 2.— Bandello, 
Part I., Novel 3. 

Novel II. Source. Boccaccio, Day VII., Novel 7. 


Novel I. The episode of the bond is apparently of Eastern origin. A similar one 
occurs in Gladwin's "Persian Moonshee," No. 13, and also in the " Bibliotheque 
des Romans," i., 112. The story of Selestinus given by Douce ("Illustrations 
of Shakespeare," vol. i., 281) from the Harleian colleclion is almost the same as 
this novel, and probably both stories come from this same source, i.e., the version 
in " Dolopathos." Ser Giovanni makes Belmont the residence of the lady, and is the 
first to pifture a Jew as the extortionate creditor ; indeed, in the parallel story told by 
Gregorio Leti in his life of Sixtus V., the debtor is a Jew, and the creditor a 
Christian. In vol. i., p. 279, Douce gives a long list of parallels. 

Novel II. Parallels. Sacchetti, Novel XV. — Poggio, " Excusatio Sterilitatis." 

310 NOTES. 


Novel I. This story is akin to an episode in " The Seven Wise Masters." 
Novel II. Source. Boccaccio, "Decameron," Day IX., Novel 9. 


Novel I. Messer Alano is probably the French theologian, Alain de L'Isle, a celebrated 
Parisian doftor of the thirteenth century, and his adversary may have been Peter 
Waldo of Lyons. 


Novel I. Parallels to this story maybe found in the " Heptameron," 32, and in 
Bandello, II., 8. 

Novel II. Landau, " Beitrage," finds a parallel to this novel in the Spanish story of 
Count Alarcos, but the main incident is substantially different. 


Novel I. Giov. Villani, V., 38, 39. The incident of the quarrel of the German 
nobles is taken from some other source. 

Novel II. Giov. Villani, VI., 78-83. 


Novel I. Sources. Herodotus. — " Seven Wise Masters." — " L'Histoire du Chevalier 
Berinus," an old French romance. Imitations. Bandello, I., 23. — "Apologie pour 
Herodote," H. Estienne, ch. xv. A translation is given in Painter. 

Novel II. Imitations. Straparola, Night III., Fable 4. — " L'Oiseau bleu " of Madame 
D'Aulnoy is partially derived from the same story. 


Novel I. Sources. " Gesta Romanorum." — "Legend of S. Uliva" ("Sacre Rappre- 
sentazioni," ed. D'Ancona, iii. 235). Parallels and Imitations. Gower, "Confessio 
Amantis," Book II. — Philippe de Beaumanoir, "Roman de la Mannelline." — 
Matthew Paris, " Legend of Offa, King of the West Angles." — Chaucer, " The 
Man of Lawes Tale." — Straparola, Night I., Fable 4. — Basile, " Pentamerone," 
II., 6. — Pitre, " Fiabe, Novelle e Racconti," No. 43. — Grimm, No. 65, "House- 
hold Tales." — In Crane's "Italian Popular Tales," p. 337, references to many 
parallel stories are given. Ser Giovanni's novel is mainly the same as the legend 
of S. Uliva. 

Novel II. Giov. Villani, I., 25, 26. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, I., 5, 7, 30-38. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, II., I. 

NOTES. 3 n 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, II., 13-15. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, IV., 30 ; VI., 2, 3. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, VIII., 37. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, VIII., 5. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, VIII., 6, 62-64. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, VIII., 80, 81. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, I., 2-5. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, I., 7-20. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, I., 21, 26. 
Novel II. Livy. — Giov. Villani, I., 27, 28. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, I., 43-56. 

Novel II. Giov. Villani, I., 57-60. Villani (II., 1) says that the famous statue of 
Mars reverenced by the Florentines after they became Christians was thrown into 
the Arno during the destruftion of the city by Attila in 440. 


Novel I. Giov. Villani, II., 17 ; III., 2, 4, 5. The story of Gualdrada is also told by 
Francesco Sansovino, Day VII., Novel 6. 

Novel II. Giov. Villani, IV., 20. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, V., 1-3. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, V., 29. 
Novel II. Livy. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, VII., 31. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, VI., 33. 

312 NOTES. 

Novel I, Giov. Villani, VI., 30. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, VIII., 70, 71. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, V., 24, 25. 
Novel II. Origin. Apuleius, " Metamorphosis," ch. xliv. 

Novel I. Giov. Villani, VIII., 8. 
Novel II. Giov. Villani, VIII., 96. 


Novel II. Giov. Villani, VII., 10, 23-30, 38, 57-75, 84, 86, 87, 93-96, 102-105, 


Novel II. Giov. Villani, X., 229. 

Novel II. Giov. Villani, VII., £k_^ 


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